Wilmer Valderrama is best known for his role as the loveable Fez on the popular sitcom "That '70s Show." But these days the half-Venezuelan, half-Colombian actor spends most of his time behind the camera, as the creator and executive producer of a new reality competition called "King of the Floor." The new series, which airs on NuevOn, a new YouTube channel created by Electus, allows audiences a rarely seen glimpse into the world of underground break-dancing.
Read on to find out what Wilmer had to say about the hot new web series, his passion for dancing, and why he needed to take a break and recharge after "That 70s Show."
Tell us about your new show "King of The Floor."
I'm super excited about it! I've been developing the show for 2 1/2 years and I really believe this subculture is something special.This is a break-dancing competition and the battles are real. These guys are out there by themselves, bringing all of the arsenal that's gotten them through hundreds of competitions. We have some of the best break-dancers in the game that are internationally known for doing what they do. We're kind of like the bad boys of break-dancing.
A lot of people know you from your work on "That '70s Show," but they may not know how much you love dancing.
I've been dancing, singing and acting since I was 6 years old. I've been hip-hop dancing and I've been a fan of break-dancing for well over a decade. Acting just happened to take off before that. And on "That '70s Show," I did a bunch of dancing, so that was pretty cool. It has been really exciting to immerse myself into this subculture and so many of my friends are part of it. It was very easy for me to capture something authentic.
Will we see you bust a move on the show?
You will have to watch! I think you'll definitely see some interesting things throughout the season, and the show itself is very explosive and exciting. I'm definitely going to be dancing in another upcoming project. I haven't revealed it yet, but I can say that I'll definitely be dancing at one point.
Who would you say is the target audience for this show?
I think it's for anybody who's a real fan of dancing. If you're a fan of "America's Best Dance Crew," "So You Think You Can Dance," or "Dancing With the Stars" -- I think that all of those audiences united will find this very appealing and very intriguing.
So how is your show different?
The difference between our show and those dance formats on television is that we are truly a dance competition -- we don't have anybody backstage choreographing my kids and telling them to be TV-ready. When I produce something, I want it to be as authentic as possible. From "Handy Manny" to "Yo Momma," to all of the things I do with 20th Century Fox and Disney and MTV, I don't over-produce sh**.
Are there any Latino contestants on the show?
Oh, absolutely! Half of my break-dancers are Latino, and by the way, all three judges are Latino. It's a very multi-cultural, universal subculture. And in break-dancing, you have everyone from Asians to Latinos to Europeans and Americans on stage. Break-dancing is something that unites.
You're someone who produces a lot of TV shows. What do you think of the current state of Latinos on TV?
There are more and more Latinos leading television at the moment and also in movies. We're definitely making our mark and I think the Latino community has done some great things in the last couple of years in front of, and behind the scenes. I myself have deals with 20th Century Fox, Relativity, with the Disney Co. and MTV and I have multiple shows on all of the networks. I make it a point to have some of my leads be Latinos and they don't question it once. If anything, they've encouraged me to develop stuff for the Latino audience and for my culture. So, I think it's a really good time right now for us to be aggressive with the stuff we want to create.
We know you're executive producing a ton of shows at the moment. Would you ever consider joining another TV series ala "That '70s Show?"
I'm not sure I'd do a reality show or a hosting gig at all because, to be honest, I'm more of a performer than anything else. But I just got done doing "Awake," on NBC -- I finished the first season and it went really well -- and I have to go back to the drawing board and figure out, 'OK, if I return to television again, what would that character be?' "That '70s Show" was so well-received and it was part of peoples' homes for a long time, and you want to be very conscious about what you come back with. It's scary to come back to television.
I also just finished a couple of movies and I'm working on my music project -- I'll be launching a bilingual musical project where I'll be singing and producing my music. I love running out of hours during the day.
Given how busy you are, do you have plans to settle down anytime soon?
The good news for me is that even though I work and put my hands in multiple projects -- whether it's the charitable companies or my clothing line or my keynote speaking or my producing -- I always find a balance and I always make sure that by 7 p.m., I'm done with work. After that it's my time.
I'll tell you, at one point I was really overwhelmed with myself. This was back in like 2005. I was doing "Handy Manny," I was shooting "Fast Food Nation," I was doing 'Yo Momma" on the weekends, and I was doing my meetings and creating a clothing line. So I was doing five things a week and it was really, really rough.
At that point, I overwhelmed myself and burned myself out and that's why when I finished "That '70s Show," I had to take a long break. I took a long break from being in front of the camera, because I was just exhausted. At that point, I couldn't really go. ... Sadly it's how a lot of artists lose the love for what they do, is when they don't give themselves that time to recharge. They just continue to squeeze things in as much as they can. At some point, you lose something along the way, man. You have nothing else to give, man. But I'm excited because I took a couple of years off from in front of the camera, I built my company and now I'm fully recharged and ready to return in front of the camera. And it's exciting. I love what I do.
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