This year’s recipient of the Vito Russo award is stage and screen actor, producer, and activist Wilson Cruz. The Vito Russo Award is presented to a LGBTQ media professional who has made a significant difference in accelerating LGBTQ acceptance. The Award is named after Vito Russo, a founder of GLAAD and celebrated ACT UP activist, who pushed open the door for news and entertainment industries to include LGBTQ performers and stories. Past recipients of this honor include Ryan Murphy, Andy Cohen, Samira Wiley, and Billy Porter. Wilson Cruz will receive this award at The 33rd Annual GLAAD Media Awards on May 6th, 2022 in New York City.
Cruz got his start playing the role of Rickie Vasquez in the critically acclaimed 90s series, My So-Called Life. The show was groundbreaking as it was the first primetime series to feature an openly gay teenager. Rickie was a 15-year old who wore eyeliner and funky patterned clothes. His friends show Rickie unconditional support as he comes to terms with his sexuality.
Following this iconic role, Cruz headed to the stage, where he portrayed Angel in Rent. In this role, Cruz performed in the West Coast premiere of Rent, for which he won a Los Angeles Ovation Award and went on to become the first replacement for Angel on Broadway. Rent received multiple Tony awards and continues to be a cornerstone in LGBTQ acceptance and AIDS awareness. Cruz also played the role of Michael in the first national tour of Jonathan Larson’s “Tick, Tick… BOOM!”, which has since been made into a Netflix Original movie.
With countless credits in between including ER, Grey’s Anatomy, He’s Just Not That Into You, Shameless, Thirteen Reasons Why, and The West Wing, Wilson Cruz is currently playing the role of Dr. Hugh Culber, who is openly gay, on the series Star Trek: Discovery. The series is nominated for Outstanding Drama Series at the 33rd Annual GLAAD Media Awards. Cruz also voiced Prince Andrew on Hulu’s The Bravest Knight, which won the GLAAD Media Award for Kids & Family Programming in 2020.
Outside of his acting career, Cruz is an outspoken advocate for the LGBTQ community. He served as Director of Entertainment Industry Advocacy and as a National Spokesperson at GLAAD. He is currently serving on the Board of Directors of GLSEN.
Wilson Cruz has been a leading voice in remembering the victims and survivors of the Pulse nightclub shooting. Cruz lost his relative Brenda Lee Marquez McCool in the national tragedy in 2016 and has made it his mission to keep her memory alive ever since.
Cruz, who is proudly Puerto Rican, is a passionate advocate for LGBTQ and Latinx actors. Throughout his career he has made frequent media appearances and given speeches at events such as the TV Critics Association Press Tour, the Sundance Film Festival, and the Millennium March for Equality.
In 2021 Cruz had the opportunity to serve as the Grand Marshal of NYC Pride. He has appeared on the cover of Entertainment Weekly’s 50 Years of Pride Issue, and received countless awards and honors such as, being included in the OUT 100, the Los Angeles LGBTQ Center’s Rand Schrader Distinguished Achievement Award, Outfest’s Fusion Achievement Award, the California Legislative Caucus’ Latino Spirit Award for Achievement in Entertainment and Advocacy, and ADCOLOR’s Advocate Award.
Wilson Cruz can now add GLAAD’s Vito Russo Award to his extensive list of accolades. Since the start of his career, he has opened so many doors and provided visibility for LGBTQ and Latinx people all over the world.
About the GLAAD Media Awards:
The 33rd Annual GLAAD Media Awards honor media for fair, accurate, and inclusive representations of LGBTQ people and issues. Since its inception in 1990, the GLAAD Media Awards have grown to be the most visible annual LGBTQ awards show in the world, sending powerful messages of acceptance to audiences globally. The 33rd Annual GLAAD Media Awards are presented by Gilead Sciences, Inc., Google, Hyundai, and Ketel One Family Made Vodka. GLAAD is also grateful to Major Sponsor Delta Air Lines, Official Sponsors Nike and Sony Music Group, and Titanium Sponsors Comcast NBCUniversal Telemundo and Netflix.
The nominees for the 33rd Annual GLAAD Media Awards were published, released, or broadcast between January 1, 2021 and December 31, 2021. For a full list of nominees, click here.
GLAAD presented select winners of the GLAAD Media Awards at the ceremony in Los Angeles on April 2nd. For a full list of winners thus far, click here. Remaining winners for select categories will be announced at GLAAD’s New York Ceremony on Friday, May 6.
To purchase tickets for the 33rd Annual GLAAD Media Awards, please visit: www.glaad.org/mediaawards/tickets.
On socials please follow @GLAAD and #glaadawards