Jose Yenque honored with the
HOLA 2010 ILKA Humanitarian Award
Jose Yenque is a native of New York, who was introduced to the theatre early in life thanks to his mother, renowned stage actor Teresa Yenque. Her example inspired him to give acting a try in his youth, and he found it to be a positive venue for overcoming self-doubt and shyness. Following many years of dedicated work in theatre and dance, Yenque now has more than a decade of experience working successfully in film and television, and is the recipient of numerous important industry awards including the SAG and the Alma Awards for films such as Steven Soderberg’s Academy Award winning “Traffic” opposite Benicio Del Toro, HBO’s “The Blue Diner” opposite Miriam Colon and mom Teresa Yenque, and Academy Award winning short film (Student Category) “Wednesday Afternoon”. He delivered a stand-out performance in Lifetime Network’s thriller “Between” opposite Poppy Montgomery (CBS’ “Without a Trace”) which earned him the 2007 Imagen Award, honoring positive portrayals of Latinos inentertainment.
Yenque’s film career has included working opposite many of Hollywood’s legendary actors. In 2011 he will be seen in the role of “Robert” opposite Christopher Plummer and Ewan McGregor in the Mike Mills’ feature film “Beginners.” His comedic abilities are on display in 2010 opposite Sigourney Weaver in “The Snake,” a worldwide ad campaign for Orange Telecommunications. He has shared the screen with Jeff Goldblum, Alec Baldwin, and Melissa Leo, among many others. His TV credits include frequent guest starring roles on numerous Primetime shows on all the major networks, most recently in the final season of “Lost.” http://www.tvfanatic.com/2010/04/tv-fanatic-exclusive-interview-with-lost-guest-star-jose-yenque/
Yenque has taken the lead in significant humanitarian and educational projects, in an effort to utilize his recognition in the entertainment industry to the benefit of those in need. He along with filmmaker Juan Escobedo helped found The East L.A. Society of Film & Arts (TELA SOFA), a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing arts education to disadvantaged youth. Through this organization, Yenque offers acting classes to teens, to help enhance their confidence, self-esteem, and ability to express themselves. These classes also provide an open forum for developing skills as an artist, while at the same time working on challenging dilemmas facing teens today, such as teen pregnancy and HIV/STDs, drug/alcohol use, gang involvement, etc. Thanks to TELA SOFA’s annual film festival, currently in its third year, teen filmmakers have a positive venue for self-expression, and are able to screen their works and showcase their talent at major studios such as Paramount and Raleigh, and to compete for the festival’s “El Angel Conscience Art Award,” honoring excellence in short films and videos. TELA SOFA also provides young filmmakers with a wider audience, by taking the film festival on the road through an “Arts Without Borders” initiative, and has arranged screenings to motivate young people in other parts of the world, including Mexico and Peru.
Apart from his work with teens, Yenque has contributed actively to higher education, and has lectured on college campuses from coast to coast. He has teamed up with Professor Darci Strother at California State University San Marcos (CSUSM) to create a study abroad program which in 2009 gave a group of mostly first-generation Latino students the unique opportunity to participate in a classical theatre festival in Almagro, Spain. He infused a basic Spanish language class with an acting component, resulting in an outstanding DVD production and an increase in motivation and confidence in students’ Spanish-speaking abilities. And, based on his 10+ years of dedication to the orphans of Casa Hogar Sion in Tijuana (for which he won a Sol Azteca award in 2007), he co-created a service learning opportunity, “Hands Across Our Border,” which has brought together hundreds of university students from the U.S. and Mexico to help meet the needs of this extremely vulnerable group of children. Yenque recently presented and discussed his work at a special session of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education’s annual conference, and was met with interest from college faculty across the country. Professor Kristine Diekman has tapped into Yenque’s expertise for several projects involved in her “Video in the Community” initiative. Yenque served as the narrator and co-producer for “Never Too Early, Never Too Late,” a gang-prevention DVD distributed free of charge to families and educational and social service organizations nationwide. He and Prof. Deikman are currently producing a new DVD and handbook to foster teen pregnancy prevention, an innovative project that will help open up dialogue between parents and their children.
Yenque’s success working with young people parallels his success on the screen and stage, and he is committed to weaving together his considerable skills and talents as both an actor and humanitarian. To this end, he served as a celebrity co-host, along with Al Gore, Michael Welsh (“Twilight”), and others, for the National Wildlife Federation’s “Campus Chill-Out,” an award show honoring campus’ solutions to the global climate crisis. His commitment to social causes includes helping support the Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre through appearing in a 2008 PSA, and in a 2009 virtual telethon for the Foundation for Orphaned, Abandoned and Disabled African Children, alongside Shirley Jones.
And although Yenque has demonstrated his talent as an actor in a diverse range of roles, including playing his share of “bad guys,” he is always drawn to opportunities that allow him to combine his passion for acting with his interest in addressing the larger issues of our day. Catch him in the upcoming film “Happy New Year,” dealing with the effects of post traumatic stress disorder on returning veterans, and in “Mamitas,” a coming-of-age story set in East L.A., where Yenque plays a character close to his heart: a positive role model for a teenager going through tough times.
Yenque expresses his feelings about being this year’s recipient of the HOLA ILKA Award: “I’m truly grateful to my family, friends, students and all those teachers, role models (and those who will become role models and don’t know it yet) for inspiring me to continue to do what I love to do, for guiding me in this wonderful direction, for helping me realize that everything is possible and that giving back is within all of us.”