Jon Huertas is helping the next generation of Latinx talent…
The 52-year-old half-Puerto Rican actor and his This Is Us cast mates and the show’s creator are launching a scholarship fund to support Latinx students with big Hollywood dreams.
Huertas, his costars Mandy Moore, Milo Ventimiglia, Sterling K. Brown, Justin Hartley, Chrissy Metz, Chris Sullivan, and Susan Kelechi Watson, as well as series creator Dan Fogelman, have partnered with the art advocacy group Nosotros on the creation of the Somos Nosotros Fund.
It will be used to bolster the quality of inclusion from a creative perspective.
The Latinx-focused scholarship fund is the culmination of a conversation that started over parity late last year when Huertas was given a lower bonus than his costars, This Is Us original cast members offered to pool together a portion of their final season bonuses when fellow series regular Huertas had been given less, an offer which he declined.
Huertas approached Nosotros, founded by Hollywood legend Ricardo Montalbán in 1970, with the idea of starting a scholarship fund because of his deep respect for its history of serving Latino artists.
“The primary directives of the Somos Nosotros fund is to solidify and build on Nosotros’ current initiatives while creating more opportunities to foster Latinx talent,” said Nosotros president Joel M. Gonzales. “The initiation of this fund serves as an inaugural partnership between Huertas and Nosotros where he will serve in a high-visibility Advisory role alongside Nosotros’ already well-established leadership.”
The cast’s generous contributions will be pooled with other donations from organizations like NBC, Netflix, and other endowments.
“We’re going to continue to fundraise every year,” says Huertas. “We’re starting an advisory committee for the fund so we can keep this going for the next 20 or 30 years. It would be nice to reach a point where we won’t need something like this one day but until we do, we as Nosotros will continue to fundraise and contribute to this fund as deeply as we can continue to develop programs and initiatives for the Latinx community which is very important to me.”
In one of its first initiatives, Nosotros is joining AFI in establishing a scholarship for Latinx fellows who enroll in AFI’s writers MFA program. Both Huertas and Gonzales believe that giving new writers the opportunity to earn their MFA, with less burden moving into their career, will give them a leg up to create and write strong, well-developed Latinx characters and stories.
“With the show ending, we really wanted to honor this amazing experience we shared by doing something big. Someone in the cast suggested we could start a charity which got me thinking about the representation of Latinx characters and how we still need a push towards that—with regard to the quality, not the quantity,” Huertas tells Deadline of how the idea for the Fund was born.
“I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we as a cast could give a leg up to the next Latinx writer? Someone who can create compelling stories for Latinx characters, possibly new television shows, who can be writers in writers’ rooms that invest in, protect, and elaborate on Latinx characters.’ They loved the idea and we agreed we should go for it. I’ve worked with Nosotros in the past on other initiatives and knew they would be the perfect partners.”
The Fund announcement arrives ahead of the May 3rd airing of the This Is Us episode titled “Miguel,” where fans finally will learn the backstory of Huertas’ character. The episode is a celebration of Latinidad, as well, the goes beyond what viewers will see on screen.
“Miguel” was written by This Is Us staff writer Jonny Gomez and was directed by Zetna Fuentes.
“Fans can expect to see what shaped Miguel’s life,” he says. “What parts of his life contributed to how he approaches life with the Pearsons, how he treats his wife, and how he represents himself in the family. He hasn’t had the easiest of journeys, which is something people don’t know about him yet. I’m excited for them to be able to look through that window.”
He continued, “We’re going to celebrate him and his Afro-Latinidad, his family, and the diaspora that kind of gets overlooked when you think of Latinx. I love that we got to speak to that on the show. Hopefully, this episode will help people love Miguel all the way around.”