Emmy-winning actor Jimmy Smits has been recognized with a star on the iconic Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Because of the pandemic, the ceremony on Wednesday for the 2,696th star was virtual instead of a traditional in-person event.
"My goal as an actor has been to interpret and to bring into life fully-rounded characters with thought provoking stories, hopefully, that reflect the American experience," said Smits. "So does it matter that I’m Hispanic, Latino, Latinx? You bet it does," he said.
"My heritage informs all my characters, no matter who they are. And believe me, I’m very proud to be someone who continues in the tradition of actors like Jose Ferrer, Anthony Quinn, Rita Moreno, Raul Julia. I think what has driven me from the beginning of my professional career," he said.
The veteran Latino actor's career spans 30 years and includes a wide range of roles in highly acclaimed shows. He has accumulated over 40 awards and nominations.
Smits became famous for his role in the TV series “L.A. Law,” for which he won the Primetime Emmy Award for outstanding supporting actor in a drama series.
Later, Smits won a Golden Globe for best TV actor in a drama series for his work in “NYPD Blue.” He also appeared in the hit show “The West Wing” and starred in the award-winning play “Anna in the Tropics.” Fans may also remember his lead roles in movies such as "Mi Familia," about a Mexican American family.
This year, Smits will appear in the highly anticipated “In the Heights” movie adaptation.
Smits was born and primarily raised in Brooklyn, New York, to a Puerto Rican mother and a Surinamese father of Dutch descent. He is the eldest of three children.
"It would have been impossible for my family to conceive that one day their boy would have his face inside that small screen that they watched in our living room every night, let alone in the big screen," he said.
Smit's star was placed near the star of the late actor Gregory Peck, who he co-starred with in the film "Old Gringo" in 1989. Smits said he had been "in awe" with Peck, who "imparted wisdom about life as an artist and the responsibility that comes with it." He said Peck helped to "set me on the right path and treated me as an equal. And that’s why today’s tribute is even more significant."
Smith became emotional and paused after he said, "I’ve been granted a spot in close proximity to Gregory Peck’s star and I honestly cannot imagine a bigger honor."
Smits has long advocated for more Latinos in front of and behind the cameras. He co-founded the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts, which fosters Hispanic talent and career opportunities in the media and entertainment industries. He also invested in the Conga Room, a Los Angeles dance club that has live performances.