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Brooklyn-born Jimmy Smits receives star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

Hollywood honors a Brooklyn star

June 6, 2021 Jaime DeJesus,
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Actor Jimmy Smits, who was born and raised in Brooklyn, received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on June 3.

Smits, 65, a Brooklyn College alumnus, has starred in several hit television shows and films, including “The West Wing,” “NYPD Blue,” “Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith,” “LA Law” and “Sons of Anarchy.” His latest role is in the upcoming movie version of “In the Heights.”

The ceremony took place virtually via Youtube, and friends and stars such as Paris Barclay and Lin-Manuel Miranda discussed the impact Smits has had, especially in the Puerto Rican community. Smits’ mother was from Puerto Rico, he lived in Puerto Rico for several years and he identifies as Puerto Rican.

Miranda mentioned his iconic roles on television and film, but also discussed his personal side.

“Above all, Jimmy Smits is an incredible advocate for Latino artists,” he said. “I remember when he came to see ‘In The Heights’ off-Broadway way back in 2007 when we were playing in a theater no one ever heard of on 37th Street in the Hudson River. 

“He came, saw the show and even volunteered to do the announcement for the Broadway commercial when we were moving to Broadway.”

In the new movie version of “In The Heights,” he plays Kevin Rosario.

“Your talent is only matched by your incredible humanity and enormous heart,” Miranda said. “I love you. Congratulations on this long overdue and well-deserved honor.”

Director Barclay said of Smits, “I don’t think that he should get a star. I think that he should get a heart, because Jimmy’s all heart.”

The Thomas Jefferson High School alum’s star is located at 6100 Hollywood Boulevard, right next to that of his favorite actor and friend Gregory Peck.

Smits said he was blown away by the honor.

“This is pretty mind-blowing stuff because it carries permanence that is humbling,” he said. “In an industry when even your employment can be so fleeting, this kind of feels like forever.”

He discussed how much fun he had filming “In the Heights” and recalled his younger years.

“It reminds me of being back home in Brooklyn as a little kid and doing impressions in our living room in front of my dad and his poker playing pals,” Smits said. “I would put on his coat and hat and pretend that I was Nikita Khrushchev banging the shoe on the desk at the U.N. or singing ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand.’”

He added that it would have been impossible for his family to conceive that one day their boy would himself be on the small screen as well as the movie theater screen. He also mentioned his Latino pride.

“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. I’m very proud to be someone who carries on the tradition of actors like José Ferré, Anthony Quinn, Rita Moreno and Raul Julia.”

He gave teary eyed thank you to his wife, child and family.

“[I’m] Just a Puerto Rican kid from Brooklyn who was determined to follow his dream and chase passion,” he said. “Today is honestly beyond anything I could’ve envisioned.”

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