12/29/2014 11:51 am ET

Jencarlos Canela Will Be First Latino To Lead New Year's Eve Countdown In Times Square

Darren Abate/Invision/AP

The sixty-second countdown into the new year from Times Square is echoed annually around the world, and this year Jencarlos Canela will make history as the first Latino to lead it.

The Cuban-American actor and singer is one of five representatives from the International Rescue Committee (IRC), an organization that focuses on helping people whose lives have been affected by conflict and disaster, to push the Waterford Crystal button that initiates the descent of the New Year’s Eve Ball at 11:59 p.m.

Canela, 26, will welcome 2015 with the help of Sudanese models and activists Alek Wek and Nykhor Paul, IRC President and CEO David Miliband and high school student Sonam Lama. A senior at Cardozo High School in Queens, New York, Lama was resettled by the IRC from Nepal to the United States in 2012.

“The IRC delegation embodies the full meaning of New Year’s Eve – from reflecting on where we’ve been and letting go of the hardships behind us, to starting anew with a sense of hope and new beginnings,” President of the Times Square Alliance Tim Tompkins said in a press release. “When our special guests push the button, it will offer a moment of global hope for refugees and all who seek new starts across the world.”

According to the press release, Canela has been volunteering with the IRC in Miami for several years and visited Haiti in 2011 and 2013 with the organization.

H/T Variety Latino.



Jencarlos Canela