My name is Juan Cantú, and I’m so excited to continue the celebration of Hispanic and Latin American Heritage Month at Disney by sharing my story. I work as a Show Director for Disney Live Entertainment, and I’m particularly proud to announce that I am the first Hispanic/Latin American cast member to hold this title at Walt Disney World.
Working in musical theatre and entertainment at Disney has been a dream come true, and I know I’m making my younger self extremely proud by achieving my dreams in such a big way. My parents immigrated from Monterrey, Mexico to Houston, Texas in 1958, and I was the eighth kid born into a big (and energetic) Mexican-American family.
Some of my favorite memories growing up were our Christmas traditions. We celebrated with “Las Posadas” in the streets of our community, and although this tradition was born of Catholic and Mexican traditions, it was also full of storytelling, music and food. In many ways, this was my introduction to storytelling.
I remember crying when my family couldn’t afford to send me to a musical theatre school I desperately wanted to attend. Later, I auditioned and earned a scholarship to attend that same school. Here is where I found my “tribe.” My people. A few years later, I started auditioning for community and professional shows and began my career as a singer, actor and dancer. Being part of a cast was a natural transition for me. In many ways, my cast became my second family. I began my Disney journey in 1995, and since then I’ve been part of so many wonderful ensembles, from being the lead singer in “Tarzan Rocks!” at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, to performing in “Finding Nemo – The Musical” and “Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue” to name a few.
I love having the opportunity to celebrate my heritage and share it with those closest to me. My husband, who is from Alabama, also works at Disney. Although we had such different upbringings, I’ve really enjoyed sharing my culture with him. One of my favorite ways to do this is by introducing him to the many wonderful Latin flavors and foods, his favorites being beef tinga and street corn. I’m also grateful for the opportunity to connect with my culture directly at work. I recently joined the HOLA (Hispanic Organization for Leadership Development) BERG in Florida, and I’m excited to continue planning events and opportunities for the advancement of our Hispanic and Latin cast members.
I really treasure being able to bring my full, authentic self to my job. I have never felt like I had to hide who I am or diminish my Hispanic heritage. In fact, I celebrate it with all my friends, co-workers and colleagues. My passion for theatre, dance and music has influenced who I am as a person and artist. Now, that is infused in everything I bring to the table in my work for Disney. I can’t wait to see how far I can go, but most importantly, I hope to inspire future generations of Latin cast members and leaders!
Juan, amazing life and story
I could not be more proud of you and happy for you! I know you will enhance any program you put your heart into, and those performers blessed to work with you will be all the better for it! You are an exceptional talent and human being!! Congratulations!! And Keep A Going!!!
Welcome to the blog Mr. Juan.
What a nice surprise to read this post and learn that you are still at Disney. I remember Tarzan Rocks! from back in the day and you were phenomenal in it. Not sure you remember me, I was guitarist Emilio’s brother-in-law (at the time). Anyway, congratulations on all your success. Thank you for sharing this article with us Disney Park Blog readers, Juan.