Theater, cinema, and TV are conquered lands by the Colombian actor John Leguizamo. Without a doubt, his irreverence has broken schemes and opened new paths for Latinos in Hollywood.
At the beginning of his career, John Leguizamo realized that Hollywood would not accept him, however, he knew very well how to play that game where Latino actors were only villains. This would not be for long, John was determined to make a privileged place on the US stages where he had grown up, but he still felt invisible.
Far from giving up or going with the flow, John Leguizamo took charge of his future in show business by writing and bringing his own stories to life. Today, he is one of the strongest Latino figures in Hollywood.
What is the story of John Leguizamo?
John was born in Bogotá, Colombia, in 1964. At an early age (4 years) he moved with his parents to the United States. Looking for new growth opportunities for the family, they settled in New York, specifically in Queens.
This Colombian eventually grew up with his mother, frequently changing residence. During his childhood and adolescence, he was an undisciplined person. With the intention of keeping him busy him and channeling his hyperactivity, his mother enrolled him in acting classes, and at 17 years of age he understood that he had a talent for comedy, improvisation, voices, and dialects.
Leguizamo was trained at different institutions such as New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, the LIU Post, and the Off-Center Theater, a comedy troupe in Manhattan.
The early years of his career
His beginnings on stage were as a comedian on the New York club circuit. John’s first role on television was in the series Miami Vice playing a drug lord, not wanting to be pigeonholed in this type of characters prompted him to write works for film and theater.
The first play he mounted titled Mambo Mouth received rave reviews and attracted the attention of such writers as Raúl Julia, Tim Burton, and Al Pacino. After several films he took off in Hollywood for his role as Luigi in Super Mario Bros.
After winning spots as a comedy actor, screenwriter, and producer, he had the opportunity to show his dramatic side in the films Romeo and Juliet, Carlito’s Way and John Wick with Keanu Reeves, to name a few. He also played a drag queen in Summer of Sam and starred alongside Nicole Kidman in the musical Moulin Rouge.
Undeniably, John Leguizamo is a very versatile actor. With over 70 Hollywood movies to his credit, he has even voiced iconic animated characters like Sid from Ice Age.
John Leguizamo’s contributions to the Latino community
Leguizamo really does not miss an opportunity to highlight that Latinos have made the United States over time. However, something extraordinary is his Play/Netflix Special “Latin History for Morons.”
Tired of his son being bullied at school, he decided to investigate the participation of personalities from Latin American countries and show that much of what is now North American soil is due to the contribution of these foreigners.
What was born as an argument for his son to be proud of his roots, became a monologue and a Broadway musical to empower Latinos. In fact, currently Latin History for Morons airs on Netflix
Another of his works that he began as a monologue and has been brought to television through HBO, is Ghetto Klown. This story is intended to inspire youth living in low-income settings through his own example of self-improvement. For an hour and a half, John recounts the difficulties and sacrifices he had to go through to become what he is now.
With the aim of making Latino culture more and more visible, John accepted the challenge of being the host of IneXplicable Latinoamerica, a History Channel program that premiered in May 2021. In its first season, Leguizamo presents in Spanish language mysterious histories, curious and even paranormal stories that occurred in 10 Latin American countries.
Beside this, John is recognized for raising his voice in defense of Latino actors, criticizing racism, and promoting spaces for community development. You can see some of his posts related to the above on his Instagram account
Latino pride in the world
John Leguizamo has found a very particular way to contribute to the Latino community inside and outside the United States. Publicizing his life story, highlighting the achievements of other Latinos and his contributions, as well as protesting and criticizing when necessary have positioned him as an important voice and true Latino pride.
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