Wilson Cruz

The Gift of Insistence
What Happens When You Refuse to Take No for an Answer

“I’ve never felt bad about insisting on being considered. Even at an early age, I felt like I had enough talent to earn me the right to at least be seen. Whether or not I was right or wrong for it in the end didn’t matter; it was really about me not taking no for an answer. And I still don’t.”

American actor, Wilson Cruz, knew from an early age that he wanted to perform, to “be in the business,” and it was largely this burning desire that led to his family moving to California by the time he was 10 years old. At the age of 16, he landed an agent and it didn’t take long before he understood that the squeaky wheel gets the grease. In this episode, Cruz discusses some of the incredible opportunities that he created by being insistent, and how they changed his life.

Wilson Cruz (born Wilson Echevarría) was born in New York to Puerto Rican parents. As a singer, dancer, and actor, he has had an impressive career in television, film, and on stage with such credits as Ally McBeal, ER, Grey’s Anatomy, He’s Just Not That Into You, and Rent. He is known for being the first openly gay actor playing a gay character in a leading role in an American TV series (Rickie Vasquez on My So-Called Life). He works with, and is an advocate for LGBTQ youth and in particular, youth of color.

What You’ll Learn from This Episode:

  • The interesting chain of events that took Cruz and his family from New York to California
  • What he was hounding his mother to do when he was only 7 years old
  • His musical and performing journey through his school years
  • His mother’s deep commitment and sacrifice to help Cruz pursue his dream
  • How he landed an agent at the age of 16
  • Why he became insistent, and what happened as a result
  • Why it took two years to land the Rent gig in an interesting “full circle” story
  • How his Catholic Latina mother reacted when he told her that he was gay
  • Why he found himself “couch-surfing” at friends’ homes and living in his car for three months
  • How his first major acting role healed his family
  • Why Cruz was excited about his role on 13 Reasons Why
  • How he managed to do two TV series simultaneously, one in Toronto and one in California
  • Two of his favourite episodes for his Star Trek character
  • How he is currently involved with activism
  • The advice he would give his young self when he was living in a car

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