By JESSICA ROIZ – July 5, 2017
He’s not only that guy on That ’70s Show or that guy who dated Demi Lovato. He’s Wilmer Valderrama, darn it, and he’s been representing Latinos on the big and small screens for as far as 1998. He’s also been advocating for the Latino community for the past 11 years.
The actor, who’s currently a series regular on NCIS, took a break from filming to hit up the Premios Juventud 2017 awards show held annually in Miami, Fla., where he will be using his platform to shine the spotlight on young Latinos.
For the first time in its 14 years, the award show will be presenting awards to deserving Latinos who are giving back to the community. They are calling this category “Agents of Change,” where celebrities, like Valderrama, give out the awards.
Among these young Hispanics are Xiuhtezcatl Martinez and Nalleli Cobo recognized for their fight against climate change; Dante Alvarado for his work in favor of education and technological development; and Ivan Ceja for his support of young immigrants.
“The message here is to know that we’re not alone,” Valderrama said at an exclusive press conference in Miami. “We have a chance, we need to educate young people. They have the opportunity and ability to make a change.”
For the actor, there’s one thing that’s crucial for every Latinx activist. “Education is the most special tool and weapon that we can have,” he said.
“We’re going to be the majority one day and we need to begin educating ourselves as of now,” he said, referring to Latinos and their rights in the U.S. “Being an immigrant is one of the biggest blessings that this country has. We are the blood and foundation of this country,” he added, stating that it’s never too late not too early to get educated. “The moment is today,” he said.
Joining Valderrama is this first-ever category on the show is Orange is the New Black actress Diana Guerrero, an immigration reform advocate.
“As celebrities, it’s important to talk about our passions and ways we can support our community,” Valderrama said. “We are educating our family and today’s youth, and that just as celebrities do, everyone has a platform and a voice.”