Five-time Grammy winner Ricky Martin was changed forever 15 years ago, when he helped save three girls who were being sold into prostitution in India.
Martin is 45 and still performing in sold-out venues, where crowds invariably request “Livin’ La Vida Loca,” but the crazy life? That’s yesterday’s news. These days, he’s settled into a deeply meaningful life, starting with his foundation, rickymartinfoundation.org, a leading voice in exposing human trafficking globally since the launch of the awareness campaign Slaves of a New Era in 2004.
“My dream right now is seeing the abolition of modern day slavery and human trafficking,” he said.
The mission of the foundation: denounce human trafficking and educate about its existence through research and community initiatives, anchored in the defense of children and youth rights.
The vision: a world free of human trafficking.
The strategy: The foundation researches human trafficking in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean to educate and sensitize the public with the hopes of preventing more people from falling victim to this crime.
Human trafficking is a tragic problem. Approximately 30 million people are victims of human trafficking, of which 5.5 million are children. Human trafficking is the second most lucrative crime in the world, generating $150 billion annually.
To help, visit rickymartinfoundation.org.
Martin, who first gained fame as a member of the band Menudo, continued his evolution in 2008, when he became the father of two sons, Matteo and Valentino. Every action Martin takes, even while performing, is tethered to his undying commitment to his sons’ well-being.
On top of that, parenting is a blast, he said.
“It can’t get better,” he said. “I want my children to be proud of their father and to say, ‘My father is the best dad in the world.’ And I want them to belong to a modern family, and live a path of happiness and calm.”
He’s been taking them on the road with him their entire lives.
“They’ve been traveling since they were born because I’ve been on the road ever since, pretty much,” he said. “I’m their stability.”
A study in revelations, the pop star most famous for “Loca” and “She Bangs” altered his trajectory again in 2010, when he came out as gay, after which he realized, “Oh, my God, this is it. Perfect. Perfection.”
“The years in silence and reflection made me stronger and reminded me that acceptance has to come from within and that this kind of truth gives me the power to conquer emotions I didn’t even know existed,” he said at the time.
Martin advocates for LGBTQ rights, and battles bullying wherever he sees it.
“When someone isn’t ready we must not try to force them out,” he said. “People are being bullied and committing suicide because they’re gay, and it’s horrible.”
Martin and his family have settled down in Las Vegas — for now — as Martin performs at The Park Theater at Monte Carlo.
At Monte Carlo, Martin is belting out his greatest hits to sold-out crowds of 5,000-plus.
Here’s how his shows are being promoted: Head inside the stunning Park Theater, a revolutionary new space that delights every sense with its state-of-the-art visual and audio effects. As the lights go down and Ricky takes the stage, a sweeping projection screen brings you closer to the pop star than you ever thought possible. You can’t resist singing along as the Latin superstar delivers an exhilarating performance of chart-topping favorites and current hits, including “Livin’ la Vida Loca,” “Vente Pa’Ca,” and “She Bangs.” Complete with incredible costume changes and 18 of the most talented dancers in the industry, the intoxicating show leaves you buzzing long after the last song.
Martin has accepted a role in, “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story,” set for release in 2018.
Martin will play Gianni Versace’s longtime love, Antonio D’Amico.
“It’s a story that needs to be told,” said Martin. “We’re going to go mainstream with a story that talks about homophobia, that talks about hate, that talks about indifference. I feel humbled. It’s so raw and honest and so dramatic and sad. But at the same time you show the love of Gianni and Antonio and 15 years of struggling, fighting. It’s something that I really wanted to be loud about.”
Born December 24, 1971, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Ricky Martin began appearing in commercials at age 6. He joined the teen singing group Menudo in 1984, and sang with them for five years, earning stardom.
His debut solo album, Ricky Martin, was released in 1988, followed by a second effort, Me Amaras, in 1989.
In 1993, Martin moved to Los Angeles, where he made his American TV debut in the NBC sitcom Getting By. In 1995 he acted on ABC’s daytime soap opera, General Hospital, and in 1996 he starred in the Broadway production of Les Miserables.
Martin’s third album, A Medio Vivir, came out in 1997, the same year that he lent his voice to the Spanish-language version of Disney’s animated feature, Hercules. His fourth album, Vuelve, released in 1998, featured the hit single, “La Copa de la Vida” (The Cup of Life), which Martin performed at the 1998 World Cup soccer tournament in France, as part of a production broadcast to 2 billion people around the world.
At the Grammy Awards in 1999, Martin gave a sizzling performance of “La Copa de la Vida” at Los Angeles’s Shrine Auditorium just before picking up an award for Best Latin Pop Performance for Vuelve. He followed that star-making Grammy night with the release of his phenomenally successful first English single, “Livin’ La Vida Loca.” Martin was also featured on the cover of Time magazine and credited with helping to bring a growing Latin cultural influence into the mainstream of American pop music.
Martin was nominated in four categories at the Grammy Awards the following year, cementing his status as a pop music legend.
Decades after becoming a megastar, Martin hasn’t lost his impressive voice, his rhythmic moves, his movie star looks or his fans.
He’s still a classic, triple-threat performer — he can sing, dance and act.
But he’s a living example of the old adage, “Experience is the best teacher.” He hasn’t lost anything, but he’s gained quite a bit: perspective and wisdom, for starters.
He’s Ricky Martin 2.0, if you will.
A conscientious, committed father, a loudspeaker for those in the LGBTQ community who are being silenced, a freedom fighter against a 21st-century version of human bondage.
This is a man who’s interested in a humble kind of heroism.
“Heroes represent the best of ourselves, respecting that we are human beings,” he said. “A hero can be anyone from Gandhi to your classroom teacher, anyone who can show courage when faced with a problem. A hero is someone who is willing to help others in his or her best capacity.”