For Wilmer Valderrama, Diversity On TV Isn’t Just A Dream, It’s A Goal He Pursues With Passion

“The characters portrayed weren’t aspirational.”

Growing up, Wilmer Valderrama never felt like he saw himself on television.

He told BW Magazine that when he first came to the United States from Venezuela more than 20 years ago, he remembers "the characters portrayed weren't aspirational" for him. 

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But soon enough, a chance to star That 70's Show in the late '90s came along and gave Valderrama a chance to change the way people perceive diverse characters on TV.

"It woke up many things in me: the ability to believe, to hope for something better than we grew up with," he said. "It gave me an opportunity to dream out loud and voice my opinion."

Since then, Valderrama has done just that. He's advocated for immigrants by taking part in pro-immigration campaigns and isn't afraid to bring it up himself either.  

Now, Valderrama is ready to take his dreams to the next level. His company, WV Entertainment, just signed a two-year, first-look deal with CBS TV Studios to develop scripted and unscripted projects that will be dedicated to telling stories that put minorities out front, according to Deadline.  

"As someone who immigrated to the United States at 14 years old, I am immensely passionate about this opportunity to create engaging and culturally relevant projects with CBS Television Studios," Valderrama said. 

But Valderrama isn't shying away from being in front of the camera as a face young kids can look up to and feel like they see themselves on TV. He recently joined NCIS as Special Agent Nick Torres, bringing a Latino face to the show's primetime slot. He said that joining the show in its 14th season was a challenge, but he was up for it.  

"The point of my character was to be disruptive and to dynamically change some things," he said. 

But when it all comes to juggling a TV show and developing several others, Valderrama hopes these projects will make his 14-year-old self proud.

"It's important to me to create images that kind of fulfill that dream I had as a kid of seeing myself on TV and film," he said. 

Cover image: Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock.com

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