March 26th, 2012
04:27 PM ET

The Latino star dancing into living rooms across America

Editor’s Note: Juan Carlos Arciniegas is based in Hollywood, as a correspondent and Showbiz anchor for CNN Espanol.  You can follow him on Twitter @JuanCarlosCNN.

By Juan Carlos Arciniegas, CNN Espanol

Hollywood, CA (CNN) - He is an international star.  Tens of millions of  fans in the U.S. alone follow his telenovelas, collect his magazine covers and post his picture on high school lockers.  Odds are good, however, if you are not Latino, you may have never heard of him - until now.

Some people call William Levy the  “Latino Brad Pitt” (lazy comparison, I know) but until last week Levy was not a familiar name for most of the American television audience.

It all changed last Monday, when Levy was introduced as one of the new contestants on season 14 of the popular TV show, “Dancing with the Stars.” Levy and Cheryl Burke, his dance partner, left that day with a score of 24 out of 30, placing him in second place behind competitors Jaleel White and Katherine Jenkins.  Levy also received a standing ovation and, finally, recognition in America that extends beyond the Latino audience.

William Levy and his "Dancing with the Stars" partner, Cheryl Burke.

Levy came to the United States from Cuba 17 years ago, when he was a teenager. His dream was the same one shared by thousands of immigrants every year: a bright American future. Things in his native Cuba “were not good,” he tells CNN Espanol.

Despite the fact that his family had a rough time in Cuba - his stepfather was given political asylum in the United States - Levy is proud of his Latino roots.

“I will die being Cuban,” Levy says.

Even though he lives in the same country where other stars have the recognition he only enjoys overseas (or within the Latino community in the U.S.), he understands the full American audience hasn’t been exposed to his work.

Now is the time for him to show it.

soundoff (44 Responses)
  1. Evelyn

    All of you need to STOP insulting each other and talking bad about people. Write something nice and uplifting so others will feel good about after reading your post. I felt sick to my stomach after reading most of your hate comments. Remember that we're all humans and have to share this one planet. Stop being so selfish!!!!!

    April 8, 2012 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • You think the comments here are bad?

      If you think the comments here are bad, go read the ones on the sections In America and Schools of Thought (check out any article that has to do with race, illegal immigration, etc.). There is a lot of hate, but there are also some positive comments.

      April 8, 2012 at 11:00 pm | Report abuse |
  2. lg 42lk450u

    Thanks a bunch for sharing this with all of us you really know what you're talking approximately! Bookmarked. Kindly also consult with my web site =). We can have a link trade contract among us

    April 8, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  3. aspblopm

    He is a white guy, pure and simple. He does not understand that 'Latino' in Spanish means 'Latin' in English. If the distinction is made between white and latino , then he is white and Cuban. Why not just be American and not Balcanize the US and go for the spoils system

    April 8, 2012 at 9:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Response to JES

      JES stop worshipping Wiliam Levy and go take a business class or something. You are probably wasting time right now having fantasies of him. Do you not know he has two children with another actress (it's kind of shady whether or not they are married, he likes to be considered single so his lady fans will not lose hope).

      April 8, 2012 at 8:49 pm | Report abuse |
  4. JES

    While all of you are arguing Latino politics and representation, have any of you bothered to notice, or point out, that "Levy" is not a traditional last-name from the Spanish-speaking world? My bet is that Mr. Levy speaks for another race first, before he speaks for the Latin American world......

    April 7, 2012 at 10:28 pm | Report abuse |

      He came on DWTS and said he will be Cuban until the day he dies. He didn't say he would be Jewish until the day he died. But I don't claim to speak for "the Mexican Brad Pitt," so what do I know. Just adding my two cents. Live long and prosper.

      April 7, 2012 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
      • JES

        Good thing you don't.....he could surprise you and inadvertantly put HIS foot in your mouth.....and while dancing at that... :^)

        April 7, 2012 at 10:35 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Trent

    Latin??? Let's see...The Latins were a group of people from central Europe who eventually migrated to the Italian peninsula, then over time took over the city state of Rome. From there managed to take over all of Europe. Finally moving up to Brittiany(Current day Britain) around 65 BC and leaving about 400 years later. This is 1500 years before the Spainish came to the Amercias. My ancestors come from England. This make me more "Latin" than those south of the US.

    April 5, 2012 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Are you really ranting about who is more Latin?

      Great. What is your issue with "Latins"? Just come out and say and save us a some of our precious time trying to decode what your beef is.

      April 5, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
      • Trent

        What "rant"? I am dismayed by the media's use of "Latin"
        Just about everyone in Europe is "Latin"

        April 5, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |

      OK. I don't much care for the word LATINO either. I prefer Latino Americano.

      April 5, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • ddl

      One of the reasons why they are called Latins is because they are a mix of cultures, not all Latinos are of the same ethnicity. You can find Caucasian Latinos, African Latinos, Native American Latinos, Mestizo Latino ( Mix Caucasian and Native), etc.

      I am of Caucasian and Native mix which in Spanish colonial times where called Mestizos. Now I do not consider my self Latino because that to me is not really a ethnic background, I might accept Hispanic. But in truth I am European and Native American, which comes down to the Spanish+ American( Mexico, Central, South) culture= Hispanic.

      This is not solid truth because not all Hispanic/ Latino cultures come from Spanish decent.

      April 6, 2012 at 11:25 pm | Report abuse |

        You are correct. This is how educated people in Latin America perceive the labels. The term "mestizo," which I am sure has other synonyms in each nation, is a term which defines the mixing of the races in Latin American nations. Also, many Native America peoples in these nations are still trying to remain "pure" and saveguard their traditions through isolation. Furthermore, the terms America, Americano, are controversial because US citizens tend to monopolize them and don't have enough education to see that all the people who live in the Americas consider themselves Americanos.

        April 7, 2012 at 10:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Dawn

      Americans? What it makes sense to me is that "Americans" are people from three parts of the American continent (North America, Central America and South America).

      April 7, 2012 at 9:36 am | Report abuse |

        You are correct. You must have a college degree or at least a love for learning and for having an unbiased, respecful view of other people's pov. Qualities that CNN censors and Arizona radicals need desperately. Let's educate them by continuing to speak up for reason and tolerance.

        April 7, 2012 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
      • Trent

        I guess I need to make your ignorance on the subject go away. Please tell us what other country in the Americas has the workd America in their country name? South of the US border that country is offically called Estados Unidos Mexicanos, thus call themselves Mexicans. North of the border, we have Canada thus call themselves Canadians.

        April 7, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |

        Trent. I don't want to assume too much, but by your name I infer that you are not Hispanic. Please correct me if I am wrong. Dawn and I are not ignorant and you do not need to fancy yourself our teacher. If you are white, please don't assume this burden on our behalf. She is correct and you might also be correct in the sense that no modern country that comes to mind has the word America in its official name. What you seem to ingnore is that to many Latino Americanos, when an United States citizen calls himself American or calls the United States "America," these terms tend to be obnoxious because Latin Americans, whatever their country of origin may be, consider themselves Americanos, dwellers of the Americas, North, Central and South. So there you go, hope this helps you. Forgive me if I sound condecending, but your comment didn't come across as polite, either.

        April 7, 2012 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
      • Trent

        I tell you what. Go visit those countries and what how do they refer themselves. None of them will say they are Hispanic, nor Latin American. They will they are Mexican, Canadian, Brasilian, etc.

        April 7, 2012 at 6:55 pm | Report abuse |

        Trent, your last statement makes a lot of sense and I my bet would be that you are probably right. Too argue would be to nitpick and to stray to far away from the original point. Peace out.

        April 7, 2012 at 7:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ettevi Sanedrac

      Well, those "south" of the US dont describe ourselves as Latins. We are either Mexican, Argentenian, Ecuadorian, Colombian etc just like Americans are Americans and not just Canadians or English or "White". The term "Latino" or "Hispanic" is a term coined by those "north" of the border who are ignorant enough to group together a diverse group of people into one category...Plus I agree... "Americans" is subject to all those living in the Americas..North,Central and South.

      April 7, 2012 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
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    Does anyone know any webwebsites the place freelance web designers can bid on projects? Ideally a site that membership isn't too expensive. Help could be appreciated.

    April 4, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  7. mike

    carlos, just to take your ignorance one step further, do you know how many cubans go to other latin american countries illegally????? South America has thousands of illegal cubans, and we help them!!!

    And just so you know, the majority of the ones that are in my country are all thiefs!!!

    I challenge anyone to go to Miami and see how corrupt politicians are there!, cops are the worst!!

    April 4, 2012 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
    • maria

      MIKE kudos to you I can't believe it you and I have the same opinions...who is this guy a low brain guy with two kids ,single,just a model who happesnto be lucky to be in DWTS he knows how to dance he is cheating an dthe women are crazy about him why? handsome? I see many handsome guys around .Now he is a diva put in a pedestal and suddenly he is famous? what a mentality how sad .Come to Florida they all live free ,Government taking care of them ,feeding them,school pay ,college pay meanwhile other people had to work hard to achieve eveything! read the newspaper and you find all the pedophiles,rapists, child molesters thiefs,wives beaters,the ones growing marihuana,fake cards business they all? CUBANS! now we have a idol! make me sick! kudos to you Mke!

      April 5, 2012 at 1:26 am | Report abuse |
  8. Cuban-American

    I am a Cuban-American from Miami. Although I was born in Cuba, I consider myself Cuban-American because I have lieved here since I was 8 years old and this is the country in which I grew up in and has given me everything, and made me who I am today. I vote, I went to college, and I have made something of myself. That being said, I cant believe that people compare Mexicans to Cubans as if it were apples to apples. It is not. Ethnically we are different, culturally we very are different, and we sound nothing alike. Its like comparing Americans to Mexicans, really. Nobody is better than anybody so and that is the main point of my post. Now, Cubans do have had a huge influence in Miami and South Florida (NOT: Orlando, central Florida, nothern Florida or the panhandle. "We" along with other cultures have made Miami into what many can describe as "Northern City" full of diversity, culture, and tolerance. Cuban-Americans despite their "small" 1 million population have had an unprecedented political and economic influence as compared to the 20 million Mexicans, if you want proof just look at our Congress. I really hope that all of you have an opportunity to visit Miami and meet some Cubans, you may just be very surprised.

    April 4, 2012 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Kachoto

      Nice, you make a case about no nationality or ethnicity being betther than the other and you end up your comment implying that Cubans are better than Mexicans. The difference is that Cubans have it easier in the eye of politicians to come to this country and while you have successfully turned South Florida into what it is, the Mexicans have the entire SouthWest of the United States (for better or worse, ha!). Get off your small Cuban world of South Florida and see the world for what it is because in the end, whe you are walking down the streets of America, you are just another Mexican, like me.

      April 4, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
      • aspblopm

        Cubans are white or black or a mix, but while some Mexicans are white (Carlos Slim, Salma Hayak (both are Semitic), most Mexicans are Indian or mixed. Cubans ARE seen differently in the US. They do behave differently.

        April 8, 2012 at 9:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Yahi 1

      Well said! It is sad how this country is still stuck on reace differences. From the beginning this has been a country of immigrants. I came to the U.S when I was 15 years old, went to college at 17, got a successful career, and a beautiful family. People should stop the hatred and get to work instead.
      I perosonally LOVE cuban people; they're happy, loving, hard working and some of the most educated people I've met. Reality is that EVERY country has the good, the bad, and the ugly; that's life.
      In the end it comes down to family values. We gota be humble people; we only get one shot at this. 🙂

      April 19, 2012 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |
      • Trent

        Stop that liberal crap. This is NOT a country of immigrants. Nobody in my family ever immigrated to this country.

        April 20, 2012 at 3:17 am | Report abuse |

    If only William Levy would speak up against radical right wing oppression of Hispanics in Arizona, Alabama, and many Southern states, if he did, he would be so much more than just a pretty piece of eye candy for women to look at.

    March 31, 2012 at 1:19 am | Report abuse |
    • carlos

      Speak up?

      The Cubans that emmigrated made something out of Miami when it was nothing. What have Mexicans or other Latinos done?

      Let's see, in Mexico, they turned a beautiful state into a cesspool until the Americans sent their money and architects and still, they continue to flood Arizona with illegals who trash the state border and bring in drugs and crime.

      Please tell me what Levy should say to help these wonderful invaders?

      It's a dance show and he's cute. Leave the politics out of this or better yet, go back to where you came from and fix your own country.

      April 4, 2012 at 8:41 am | Report abuse |
      • cristobal

        Couldn't have said it better. Gracias 🙂

        We Cubans are very proud of our heritage and our hard work in the U.S

        April 4, 2012 at 9:37 am | Report abuse |
      • Kachoto

        Booboo, you dont have the right to state that Mexicans messed up their own country when you had to leave yours. At least we are not communist like Cuba is. And again, if you were to step out of Miami and see the rest of the nation you would find that there is a world of people making this country what it is. The funny thing is that in the eyes of white america you are just another mexican....

        April 4, 2012 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • aspblopm

      The progressive/liberal Democrats that I know want illegal immigrants to be sent home, which is the model of the great liberal Nordic democracies. They also do not give birthright citizenship.

      April 8, 2012 at 9:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Trent

      LOL! you racist, what "oppresion"?

      April 20, 2012 at 3:18 am | Report abuse |
  10. Marlene Looney

    Fantastico to have William Levy represent the Cuban people and by extension the Latin American community. Unfortunately, people seem to forget that the Latin American community has been here for centuries. Our Mexican sisters/brothers in what is today the US southwest, Cubans in New Orleans since the late 1700's, and of course Cubans in Ybor City in the 1880's. So, we are not only not "new" to the North American continent-actually it was Spanish financing that got Columbus here and opened up the "New World" to the "Old World". As far as Levy: 'muchacho baila, baila, baila!!!!!"

    March 27, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • carlos

      Try sneaking in to any other country and they will ask questions later and SHOOT first. what seems to be the problem with Mexicans is that they think they should be allowed to cross over. If we try to do the same, the Mexican government will detain us and Mexicans laws will take over, laws that are very strict and harsh for any invader.

      If we did to Mexicans what Mexico does to illegals, the world would shudder in disbelief. You need to stop throwing stones because you live in a glass house and are all hypocrites.

      April 4, 2012 at 8:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Kachoto

      @Carlos. Lord. First off, you need to work on whatever superiority complex you have. While you may have been born in the US or US soil (aka Puerto Rico) or may have been granted assylum (aka Cuba) because of Fidel kicked you out your small mind needs to understand the universal human right to live. Hence the assylum to Cubans whom reach US shore. You my friend are no more of an American (given your values and virtues) than of those you attempt to keep out.

      April 4, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |

        Hey Kachoto why don't you go post on the stories about the ban on Mexican American studies in Arizona or the student in California who is writing a guide to help immigrants after they graduate from college (her name is Iliana Guadalupe Perez). We can't let the radicals over run the media with their hate speech, brother. And spread the word, come November, we show them not to mess with the rights of the people, we vote in massive numbers and we teach them to respect us.

        April 7, 2012 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |
      • Trent

        A bit racists, are ya?:

        April 7, 2012 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |

        Tell me, Trent, how am I racist? Are you not one of the people?

        April 7, 2012 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse |
      • aspblopm

        The liberal Democrats that I know want to follow the model of the great liberal Nordic democracies. Illegal immigrants are sent home. They also do not give birthright citizenship.

        April 8, 2012 at 9:33 am | Report abuse |

      I like your comment. Very positive.

      April 7, 2012 at 10:19 am | Report abuse |