Jersey City Marine Helps Celeb Partner Raise Money for Charity on NBC’s Upcoming Show ‘Stars Earn Stripes’By Summer Dawn Hortillosa • Aug 8th, 2012 • Category: Blog, News
Jumping out of helicopters, shooting machine guns, mentoring celebrities — it’s all part of a day’s work for former Marine J.W. Cortes of Jersey City who will be one of the operatives helping stars take on military missions for a good cause on NBC’s upcoming show “Stars Earn Stripes.”
The 36-year-old was one of several military and first-responder service “Operatives” (including former Army Delta Force and Green Beret, Navy SEALS, Marines and police officers) partnered with celebs in a fierce competition benefiting various veteran and first-responder charities. The celebrities — including Laila Ali, Dean Cain, Terry Crews, Nick Lachey, Todd Palin, Dolvett Quince, Picabo Street and Eve Torres — had to tackle difficult missions inspired by real military exercises designed to test them physically, mentally and emotionally.
While Cortes couldn’t reveal whom he was partnered with, he did have good things to say about the mystery celebrity overall.
“My particular celebrity showed an incredible amount of fortitude, bravery and heart,” he says, adding that despite being total opposites, they made a good team. “My celebrity didn’t have tightest of six-packs or bulging biceps, but did make up for it with incredible amounts of heart. And to be so humble that you’re going to basically hang on to every word I speak because you know I have certain real-world experiences? That’s so humbling; it’s everything I could’ve asked for (in a partner).”
On the show, Cortes says he and his celebrity, along with the other pairs, received their missions every week from General Wesley Clark in the same true-to-life style as their actual tasks.
“In the Marines, we’d go into what they call a combat operations center where an important person with details would tell us what was about to take place,” he says. “These missions were not a bunch of smoke and mirrors — these were real missions based on real things we have to do, minus the people dying. We had to take real risks; we had no stunt doubles.
“On this show, I was surrounded by living legends. Some of these operatives, they are the 1 percent of the military, special guys who are part of special forces. I think I am on show to represent others who are not born physically with such gifts but still wanted to serve and do right thing,” he says humbly.
Raising money for charity, he says, was one of the best parts. “I want to do more for veterans and first responders and more for kids, especially kids who live struck with epilepsy and autism, which is close to my heart,” he says.
As an actor, (Cortes starred in the off-Broadway musical Soldier’s Song last year and will be in the upcoming movie Blue Caprice), he says the arts are also another important cause for him.
And if the show gets picked up for a second season? “I would be honored if they ask me to do it again,” says Cortes. “It’s kind of what I’m hoping for — I think we need more faces like mine on TV; I’m the only NYC guy on that show, only Latino on that show, and I think everybody should be represented in some way or another. If America can follow me in that regard, I’d have to embrace that and be thankful.”
“Stars Earn Stripes” premieres Monday, August 13, at 8 pm on NBC.
Photo courtesy of James Sliman
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Summer Dawn Hortillosa is a Staff Writer for the Jersey City Independent. She is also a freelance arts and entertainment writer whose work has appeared in the Jersey Journal, the International and other publications; creative writer and theatrical director.
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