Actor Wilmer Valderrama – best known for his roles on TV shows like “NCIS” and “That 70s Show” and films like “Encanto” – has become one of Hollywood’s leading voices calling for more Hispanics in the spotlight. His activist work has led him to become a producer of podcasts, and Valderrama is expanding his alliance with iHeartMedia. He will take on an expanded role with My Cultura as he becomes a shareholder in the podcast network.
Valderrama began his relationship with My Cultura last year when he launched his podcast “Essential Voices with Wilmer Valderrama”. Executive produced by Valderrama and Leo Klemm through his production banner WV Entertainment and Clamor, the weekly series features conversations and interviews with people on the frontlines of food service, transportation, child-care and other systems where workers’ voices are often overlooked.
Under his newly expanded arrangement, Valderrama will help to curate My Cultura’s slate of Hispanic-focused podcasts. That includes a commitment to take a role in five new shows that he will either executive produce or star in.
“It is imperative that every facet of our media includes narratives that uplift Latino and Hispanic voices. At WV Entertainment it is our mission to not just choose purposeful projects that accurately represent the stories of the Latinx community, but to also make sure these stories are accessible to everyone,” said Valderrama in a statement. “We are so grateful to our partners at iHeartMedia for seeing the value in this and prioritizing the need to highlight the joy, the power, and the heart of our community in ways that are still all too rare.”
Podcasting’s audience is becoming more diverse by the day. While the typical podcast audience skewed younger, white, and slightly more male in the past, Edison Research reported last month that a majority 59% of Hispanics aged 18 and older have listened to a podcast. That is a three-point increase from a year ago. And during the past two years, Edison says the reach of the medium has grown 31% among Latinos. Many producers credit the gains to a greater outreach to Hispanics with content created specifically to tell their stories.
“We are excited to have Wilmer on board in an even larger, expanded capacity as a shareholder in iHeart’s My Cultura Podcast Network,” said Conal Byrne, CEO of iHeartMedia’s Digital Audio Group. “His energy, experience, and creativity will set this network up for even further success in year two and beyond.”
My Cultura Downloads Doubling
Valderrama becoming a My Cultura shareholder comes as the network marks gains one year after its launch. The company says monthly podcast downloads across My Cultura shows have more than doubled since the beginning of this year.
Launched in partnership with iHeartLatino President and Chief Creative Officer Enrique Santos, My Cultura includes podcasts such as “Connections with Eva Longoria,” “Princess of South Beach'' starring Rachel Zegler (West Side Story) and Sheryl Rubio (Casa de las Flores), “Wrestling with Freddie” with Freddie Prinze, Jr., “Sisters of the Underground” executive produced by Longoria and Dania Ramirez, “Chiquis and Chill,” “Lone Lobos with Xolo Maridueña and Jacob Bertrand,” “Escuela Secreta,” and the “Enrique Santos Podcast,” among others.
The network’s focus on inclusive content has attracted a large audience of both Gen Z and Millennials as iHeart says nine in ten of the network’s total downloads come from listeners aged 18-49. The network has also circulated funds back into Latinx communities with donations to various organizations totaling more than $400,000 since January.
“We’re incredibly proud of the rapid growth our network has seen in its first year,” said Gisselle Bances, SVP, Head of Production and Development for iHeartMedia’s My Cultura. “We are the first majority Latinx-owned podcast network, and we are grateful to our partners and our diverse roster of hosts, including Wilmer, who continue to further My Cultura’s mission to tell our own stories. It’s stories by us for everyone to enjoy.”