The Untold Truth Of Wilder Valderrama

For over two decades, Wilder Valderrama has had a vastly successful run in Hollywood. Probably best known for his role as Fez on Fox's Emmy-nominated series "That '70s Show," where he won numerous Teen Choice Awards and an ALMA Award nomination, Valderrama went on to occupy almost every facet of the industry. He's appeared in films and various television roles after "That 70s Show," including long-running CBS military crime drama "NCIS." 

The Miami, Florida native also knows his way behind the camera. Valderrama not only created the iconic, cult classic MTV series "Yo Momma," but he also served as producer on "Punk'd," "Blowin' Up," and more. You can even find him hosting his own podcast, "Essential Voices." 

Yet, even while Valderrama is arguably one of the most recognizable stars from the '90s, with a dating history and friend list that will match up with any group of A-listers, there is actually much still to learn about the actor. From his background to how he managed to sustain his celebrity in an era where teen stars often disappear, here's the untold truth of Wilder Valderrama. 

Valderrama is multicultural

If, while watching "That '70s Show," you found it hard to distinguish where the character was from, it's okay — you're not alone. While always affectionately fumbling his English, the show never revealed Fez's true ethnicity. According to NNBD, it was one of the show's running gags and kept vague by design. In fact, his character's name stood for "Foreign Exchange Zstudent." So, whether it was the rest of the crew breaking down that only women accompanied women to the bathroom — not men — or the plethora of other cultural norms Fez had to learn about 1970s middle America, it was all was done without defining his heritage.  

Wilmer Valderrama, however, is Hispanic and multicultural. Born in Miami to a Colombian mother and a Venezuelan father, he moved to Venezuela at the age of 3 and spent his formative years there before moving to Los Angeles with his family when he was 13. He also spent time in Colombia. While initially, he only knew a couple of words in English, Valderrama was a fast learner once in high school, even being able to star in school plays. In fact, it's through theatre that he polished his English. 

Now, if you ever find yourself watching "That '70s Show" again, even if Fez's character is a bit of a mystery, you at least know the guy playing him has a rich multi-national background, which may or may not add to the context of the jokes and puns. 

His professional debut was in a commercial

"That '70s Show" may have been one of Wilmer Valderrama's biggest breaks in his young career, but it wasn't close to his first. The actor was able to hone both his English-speaking skills and acting in high school plays, appearing in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Rumors." In fact, his drama teacher suggested he get an agent. Shortly after, he landed his professional debut: a commercial for the Spanish-language, California-based phone company called Pacific Bell. Valderrama then hired an agent and was immediately cast on the CBS miniseries "Four Corners" and in Disney Channel's "Omba Mokomba." Yet more was to come. 

Valderrama was destined for fame once landing his spot in the Pacific Bell ad. Not only was it his professional acting debut, but it was his springboard to bigger things. The same year he landed the commercial was the year he made his big splash on "That '70s Show." The rest, as they say, is history. 

That '70s Show debut

Life began happening fast for the young Wilder Valderrama once he was bitten by the cinema bug. While in the states for just a couple of years, he was able to not only land a role on a network sitcom, "That '70s Show," but he also managed to do so whilst still in high school! Valderrama would go on to play the role of Fez from 1998 to 2006, garnering three Choice TV Sidekick Teen Choice Awards during that time.

Centered around a group of teens growing up in the suburbs of Wisconsin, "That '70s Show," was able to age into a cult classic in large part due to its escapism. Apart from the cast being an ensemble of diverse characters, the show is nuanced with light-hearted humor. And while there are real-life scenarios, the consequences are relatively minor. Alongside a cast comprised of Mila Kunis, Ashton Kutcher, Topher Grace, and other stars, Valderrama came up on a popular show and forged relationships in the industry that would prove beneficial to his career in the long run. 

Because Valderrama was able to start his acting career so young, it gave him the opportunity to expand his talents and explore his options. While on "That 70s Show," he landed features on "MADtv" and "Grounded for Life" and even starred in the 2003 production of "Blackout." 

Yo Momma was part of his rebrand

When Wilder Valderrama left "That '70s Show," he had the world at his feet. The only problem is that everyone in Hollywood saw him as an foreign exchange student, when in reality, he had matured into a man. In speaking to The New York Times, Wilmer Valderrama describes being on a mission to prove to the entertainment world that he was more than a one-note character because, as he puts it, Hollywood made him out as if he and Fez were one and the same. "I had to go on a rampage re-educating the entire industry," he said in the interview. "I had to go to every studio head, director and writer and show them who I really am."

That led him to create and produce the reality series "Yo Momma" for MTV.  The show can be described as a no-holds-barred competition. The objective is to out-joke your competition in a single-elimination style tournament where the victor is crowned king (or queen) of trash talk. The only rule is the insults are limited to "Yo Momma." 

While the show only aired for three seasons, this was Valderrama's first venture outside of the umbrella of his massive sitcom, and more importantly, it proved he had some guts and was willing to take risks. 

Wilmer Valderrama dated around

There's no question that Wilder Valderrama took risks in his dating life. Although engaged to and sharing a child with Amanda Pacheco, he was quite the ladies' man back in the day. But hey, he can't help that he's a total smokeshow. For someone who made it into People Sexiest Man Alive issue in 2019, it's no wonder he's reportedly been with high-profile stars like Demi Lovato, Lindsay Lohan, Jennifer Love Hewitt, and Ashlee Simpson, to name a few. 

But dating Hollywood's finest is not where the story ends for Valderrama, as he sometimes found his love life embroiled in controversy. In an interview on "The Howard Stern Show" in 2006, he got some blowback from ex Mandy Moore, who said Valderrama lied about taking her virginity. Moore cleared things up in her own discussion with Stern, saying, "I love him and I still love him and he's a very good friend, and that's why I was so shocked by it. Because not only was it a fib, but it was so unlike him — it was so uncharacteristic." 

However, Valderrama is a changed man, seemingly very content with his daughter and fiancée. On the one-year anniversary of their engagement, Valderrama wrote in an Instagram post, "It's just us now."

Dabbled in music

One thing about Wilmer Valderrama — you can't place him in a box. When you think he's going to zig, he zags, pulling a surprise out of his hat — kind of like him creating and producing "Yo Momma" or making the Sexiest Man Alive list (this is Fez were talking about here). Not many had musician on their bingo card as a career pivot for the young Valderrama, but circa 2011 — adopting a full stage name and all —Valderrama became Eduardo Fresco

In the music video for "The Way I Fiesta" — which is also his first and only single — he's seen passed out with two women in his arms. When he wakes up, he asks: "What happened to me last night?" Then says, "That party got pretty crazy. Loco. There's only one thing to do: Do it again," in what can only be described as a parody within a parody. Wilmer joins the likes of Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Justin Timberlake, and others to have worked with The Lonely Island crew. And while he may not be the most talented musician, Valderrama more than holds his own. At the very least, it's a great Enrique Iglesias impersonation.

Owns a production company

Wilmer Valderrama has made a career for himself behind the camera as well as in front of it. What started with "Yo Momma" has expanded into his own production company — Wilder Valderrama Entertainment. Described as a media company looking for cross-market appeal, it produces content for both Spanish- and English-speaking regions. 

His website lists several projects that many may not have known were made by WVE, including Netflix original "Dog Gone Trouble" and "Charming" (which actually costars his ex Demi Lovato). Others include the dark comedy "Hipster Death Rattle" and "Handy Mandy," one of his earlier production works that's basically a Latin version of "Bob the Builder" that aired on Disney.  

In addition to producing, Valderrama launched his own men's fashion label called Calavena in 2007. He said to Splash News (via People), "I'm excited to use this platform to express my creativity. There aren't enough things that men can wear as an everyday piece and be proud of and think this is something that we invested our money in and look good in." Although Calavena appears to be discontinued, the venture showcases Valderrama's range of interests.

Valderrama's worth $20 million

Wilder Valderrmma did well in parlaying his success into wealth, amassing a net worth of $20 million, a testament to his long career and shrewd business sense. Valderrama has been on "NCIS" since 2014, and he makes an estimated $100,000 an episode. He also voiced a character in Disney's "Encanto," which had a hugely successful soundtrack.

In terms of real estate, in 2005 Valderrama shelled out $3.5 million for a home  in Tarzana, California formerly owned by Chuck Norris. It took Valderrama about 18 months to redo the property into the place he wanted and loves. The actor told Architectural Digest, "[Norris] had about three and a half acres, and I was walking through thinking, This is a pretty interesting layout — a main house and his office, a pretty massive gym, all surrounded by trees."

Whether it's royalties from his insanely popular sitcom or Netflix checks from his various producing credits, Valderrama has figured out how to make his money work.  

Valderrama has a podcast

When you're not watching Wilmer Valderrama on "NCIS," you can find him on his podcast, "Essential Voices," where he highlights first responders and other essential workers, who he credits with helping his dad, who had COVID-19 and also had two heart attacks. "They showed up and helped my dad be with us for many more years," he told Variety. "I'm so thankful, and I want to make sure their voices are heard. That's my small contribution back for what they've done for my family." Per The Hollywood Reporter, the actor was also inspired to give voice to workers in the childcare, food service, and transportation industries.

Guests include L.A. restauranteurs Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo. As owners of Jon & Vinny's, they donated food to unhoused people who had fewer resources for help, as many shelters closed due to the pandemic. The actor explained, "They decided to start donating a lot of their food to the homeless. Their company, their restaurants showed up and were seen as an example by other restaurants."

He met his fiancée killing time

Who does one date after having been linked with over half a dozen A-listers in Hollywood? The answer to that question for Wilder Valderrama is model and PADI divemaster, Amanda Pacheco. The couple officially started dating in 2019 and announced they were engaged in January 2020. The two are also parents to daughter Nakano Oceana, born in 2021.

Valderrama made plans to meet Pacheco for a short coffee date as a way to pass time before a flight. She was planning on moving to Miami and wanted an insider's advice. It just so happened that she had a mutual friend with Miami native Valderrama. From then on, it was a connection they couldn't ignore. "The energy was just so right," says Valderrama said in an interview with Parents. "We ended up telling each other our deepest secrets."

Valderrama eventually had to catch his flight but texted her the entire week he was gone filming. Pacheco revealed their first romantic date together was an intimate one with his family watching the movie "Dumbo" at home. "He took me to the movies ... but he brought his sisters, his mother and his best friend!" 

He's an animal lover

Wilder Valderrama is also an avid animal lover, making headlines when he and then-girlfriend Demi Lovato announced that their dog had died. In 2009, he was also set to star in a sitcom based on famed dog whisperer Cesar Millan.

Valderrama is an activist fighting animal cruelty. He starred in a public service announcement for PETA targeting circus animals, including those used by Ringling Bros. "Trainers often force elephants, bears, tigers, and other animals to perform physically difficult and confusing tricks by beating them with sharp metal hooks, whips, and shocking them with electric prods," the actor said. The video features him holding a bullhook and behind-the-scenes footage that showed the severity of the animals' conditions. "Never take your family to the circus" the PSA is called.  

Valderrama has a gorgeous pup at home who he shows off on Instagram, a dog who even has his own Instagram page!