We recently sat down with the charming and gorgeous actor Jeremy Ray Valdez, one of the stars in the upcoming film, La Mission. La Mission focuses on the life and conflicts of a Latino family in the San Francisco Mission district. Valdez has had recurring roles on television shows including ER, Veronica Mars, and guest starring roles on 24, CSI: NY, JAG, The Shield, CSI: Miami, Without a Trace, That’s So Raven, Boston Public and more.
Bambi Weavil: It’s great to meet you Jeremy! What attracted you to working on La Mission? How would you describe La Mission to our audience?
JV: Nice to meet you as well! When I first read the script, I was blown away by how good it was. The writing really had depth and the character I play, Jesse, was unlike anything I had ever played before. The film has a lot of important things to say and I wanted to be a part of a project that said those things.
La Mission tells many stories: that of a man who fights to reconcile the life he thought he had with the one he has; that of a violent but respected father’s turbulent relationship with his gay teenage son; and that of a community with conflicting values trying to hold on to its culture. La Mission is a story of love, healing, and transformation that bucks conventional filmmaking and storytelling to craft a singular, affecting glimpse at a vibrant, real, but often hidden segment of life in the U.S.
BW: What do you feel are the biggest misconceptions about gay Latinos?
JV: To me the biggest misconception about gay Latinos is that they are very few and far between. The Latino culture is viewed as being very “macho” in a sense, so people don’t often associate that culture with homosexuality.
BW: How important is gay rights to you? How does it affect your life?
JV: Gay rights are extremely important to me! Fighting for gay rights is no different to me than when this country was struggling through the civil rights movement, or women’s suffrage. I believe that NO one has the right to tell another individual who he or she can or cannot love or marry. I am affected by it every day, because I live in West Hollywood, which is the flash point for the gay rights movement.
BW: At Out Impact, we strongly believe in promoting activism – what non-profits or causes do you feel passionate about?
JV: I am VERY passionate about Autism. My sister was Autistic and passed away due to complications from a seizure disorder that was related to her Autism. Autism Speaks and S.A.R.C. (Southwestern Autism Research Center) are two organizations that I support.
BW: What projects are you working now that our readers can catch you in coming up? Talk to us about the Obama Effect! How were you involved in that project?
JV: I am currently filming the movie, Benavides Born, in South Texas. La Mission comes out on April 9th in New York and Los Angeles, and April 16th everywhere else. Later on this year I have a film coming out called The Obama Effect. It was directed by Emmy Award winning actor, Charles S. Dutton and focuses on a black family and a Latino family during the Obama election, and how the election effected both families.
BW: I read that you have a musical background – what are you working on with your music career?
JV: Currently I am playing guitar with two phenomenal singer songwriters, Austin Hanks and Travis Howard, We are always playing shows in and around Los Angeles, as well as across the country. The music is very country and blues oriented.
BW: What challenges you as an actor? What makes you decide to take on a new role?
JV: As an actor, I always try and work on projects that say important and meaningful things. I loved a good challenge and I love to work with actors who inspire me. I was lucky with La Mission because Benjamin Bratt was in a movie called Pinero that really inspired me to act, so working with him was a gift.
BW: How do you balance everything in your life? What keeps you grounded?
JV: My life sometimes feels like a juggling act! Especially right now. I have a beautiful, supportive wife that always looks out for me, and make sure that I take out the garbage and do laundry. My friends and family are always there to keep me grounded. To them I am just plain ol’ Jeremy!
BW: Thank you for speaking with us Jeremy! We are excited about you and your work! For more information on Jeremy and La Mission, visit http://www.lamissionthemovie.com/.