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.”

We want to hear from you.

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

Arizona News

(Facebook Photo)...

Associated Press

Pilot killed in small plane crash near Eloy Municipal Airport

A pilot has been killed in a small plane crash in a vacant lot near Eloy Municipal Airport, about halfway between Phoenix and Tucson, police said.

9 hours ago

Firebird Motorsports Park....

Chandler racing complex renamed Firebird Motorsports Park

Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Chandler has a new name -- Firebird Motorsports Park.

11 hours ago

Pamela Andrews...

Silver Alert canceled after 68-year-old woman located

The Mesa Police Department canceled a Silver Alert on Saturday after locating Pamela Andrew, the Arizona Department of Safety says.

11 hours ago

Silver Alert...

Silver Alert canceled after 81-year-old found dead

John Saler, an 81-year-old who went missing in Tonopah on Wednesday, was found deceased, authorities said Saturday.

13 hours ago

Southwest Human Development...

New Head Start early education center set to open in Phoenix

Southwest Human Development will host an open house for a new Head Start campus in Phoenix next week.

15 hours ago

caution tape...

Woman charged with murdering her husband in west Valley home

A woman is behind bars for allegedly murdering her husband in their west Valley home, according to police.

17 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Follow @iamdamonallred...

Avoid a potential emergency and get your home’s heating and furnace safety checked

With the weather getting colder throughout the Valley, the best time to make sure your heating is all up to date is now. 

(KTAR News Graphic)...

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.


Dierdre Woodruff

Interest rates may have peaked. Should you buy a CD, high-yield savings account, or a fixed annuity?

Interest rates are the highest they’ve been in decades, and it looks like the Fed has paused hikes. This may be the best time to lock in rates for long-term, low-risk financial products like fixed annuities.

Arizona dreamer’s life story inspires Phoenix Theatre musical