Arizona dreamer’s life story inspires Phoenix Theatre musical

Jan 30, 2020, 4:35 AM | Updated: Feb 7, 2020, 10:48 am
(Photo courtesy of Tony Valdovinos)...
(Photo courtesy of Tony Valdovinos)
(Photo courtesy of Tony Valdovinos)

PHOENIX — Tony Valdovinos’ dream of serving in the U.S. Marine Corps was crushed when he found out he was undocumented.

“I believed in the Marine Corps for so many years,” he said. “I studied them. I truly honored them.”

Now, his life story is being told in a musical called “¡Americano!” at The Phoenix Theatre Company. It opened on Wednesday and runs through Feb. 23.

Valdovinos, who was 2 years old when he and his family came to Arizona from Mexico, said his desire to be a Marine started soon after he saw the World Trade Center towers collapse on September 11, 2001. He was in sixth grade at the time.

“By the time I was 17, I was ready to take that step,” he said. “I met with a recruitment officer, and it was at that moment when a lot of questions were asked from me.”

The recruiter asked Valdovinos where he was from and if he was a U.S. citizen.

His parents had told him they were in the process of legalizing their immigration status. That wasn’t true, and the recruiter told him he couldn’t join the Marines.

“I talked to my parents that same day,” he said. “I was very hurt, and I felt very rejected for something that I believed in so deeply.”

But he found a different way to serve.

Valdovinos started working on election campaigns, including being the field director for Ruben Gallego’s run for Congress. Gallego, a former Marine, won the election, fueling Valdovinos to start a political organization called La Machine.

“We were called La Machine because we were able to talk to so many voters at the time, far greater than other groups that were out there,” he said.

Five years later, his group now known as La Machine Consulting recently helped elect Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego and several Phoenix city councilmembers.

The group also has helped numerous other candidates get elected throughout the years, including Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone and Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes.

“I was very defeated for so many years and had to continually fight in the political spectrum to get representation – and we were successful,” he said. “I think for myself, I found a different way to serve.”

Valdovinos said he was surprised when he found out his story was going to be told through the “¡Americano!” musical.

“What I hope people take away from “¡Americano!” is that this is about contributing,” he said. “Immigrants have always contributed, have always fought for this country.”

Lifetime Windows & Doors

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

A voter casts his ballot at a drop box on Nov. 8, 2022, in Mesa, Arizona. After months of candidate...
SuElen Rivera

Maricopa County Board of Supervisors responds to AG’s office about voting issues

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors on Sunday responded to the Arizona Attorney General's Office about voting issues on the Nov. 8 election.
21 hours ago
(Facebook Photo/Enchant Scottsdale)...

Weekend wrap-up: Here are the biggest Arizona stories from Nov. 25-27

More Christmas events are popping up around the Valley and the police are looking for tips into a couple homicides over the weekend. Here are this weekend's top stories.
21 hours ago
(Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Photo)...

Suspect arrested after man fatally shot at Phoenix gas station

A man allegedly involved in the fatal shooting of a man at a Phoenix gas station was arrested Saturday.
21 hours ago
(Pexels Photo)...

Detectives investigating fatal hit-and-run with pedestrian in wheelchair in Goodyear

A woman in a wheelchair died after she was struck by a vehicle in Goodyear Saturday evening, authorities said.
21 hours ago
(City of Peoria Photo)...
Audrey Jensen/Phoenix Business Journal

Peoria approves tax incentive agreement with mixed-use project developer

Peoria moved forward with what could be the final development agreement needed for a new mixed-use office project called Stadium Point.
21 hours ago
Follow @KTAR923...

Downtown Chandler hosts life-sized holiday treats display ‘Sugarland’

Downtown Chandler kicked off the holiday season with an interactive Christmas display filled with life-sized treats on Saturday.
21 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet edges out cable for everyday use

In a world where technology drives so much of our daily lives, a lack of high-speed internet can be a major issue.
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Prep the plumbing in your home just in time for the holidays

With the holidays approaching, it's important to know when your home is in need of heating and plumbing updates before more guests start to come around.
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
Arizona dreamer’s life story inspires Phoenix Theatre musical