Besides directing and starring in his new drama Critical Thinking, which is based on a true story, actor John Leguizamo is also a strong advocate for Latino rights, especially in the industry.  

Five Things You Need to Know:

  1. Set in 1998, Critical Thinking tells the true story of Cuban-American teacher, Mario Martinez, and his national championship winning chess team at Miami Jackson High School.
  2. Leguizamo has been in several box-office hits including voicing 'Sig The Sloth' in the Ice Age franchise. In his new film, the real high school kids are now grown and are doing well, because of the mentoring they got from their teacher. "It took them out of the streets, it taught them he had something else to offer the world and he really did have a gift," Leguizamo said. 
  3. Mentored himself by a few people growing up, Leguizamo said, "These kids go to schools that are defunded, live in neighborhoods where there is no trickle down economy, it doesn’t exist. It isn’t real and how do you waste all of these talented brilliant geniuses?"
  4. A stand-up comedian and veteran Broadway star, Leguizamo says he's "Always thought of myself more of an artist rather than an entertainer. And I think as an artist, you have the ability to make work that matters that challenges the status quo that questions our lives and I want to aspire to be an artist, who takes a political stand, who is a political animal and is not just there to cash a check." 
  5. Leguizamo has been a longtime advocate for Latino rights in Hollywood. "When it’s someone’s taste, where we have to rely on someone’s opinion, that’s where we lose, that's where they don’t see the value of our stories, of our contribution. They don’t get it, they don’t get me, they don’t see me, they don’t know me, they don’t care about my culture."