Wilmer Valderrama: Oh Snap

Wilmer Valderrama should be a household name. Unfortunately, shaking off That ‘70s Show character Fez, the lovable foreign exchange student trying to fit in with the hip crowd and score with the females at the same time, is no easy task. After 200 episodes, That ‘70s Show ended. Wilmer’s best friend Ashton Kutcher has grown into a major celebrity, and Wilmer isn’t too far behind.

After a scandalous appearance on Howard Stern, where he spoke openly about sex with his ex-girlfriends - Mandy Moore, Lindsay Lohan, and Ashlee Simpson, to name a few – he landed a new gig as the host of MTV’s Yo Momma. The controversial show is putting Wilmer back in spotlight once again, particularly into households with teens glued to MTV.

In the new situation, he’s more than just a cast member - Yo Momma is Wilmer’s first production. The show’s first season scored record ratings, and had kids around the country battling with those old snaps once again. Regardless, the success doesn’t come without its critics – many of whom are Hip-Hop fanatics. Actually, it is Wilmer’s fascination with Hip-Hop culture that is the true force behind the show.

As Yo Momma begins to run into its second season, we got Wilmer Valderrama on the phone immediately. How can he possibly visit the streets of America and not talk tous? This is an AllHipHop.com Alternatives exclusive!

AllHipHop.com Alternatives: Do you listen to Hip-Hop?

Wilmer Valderrama: I do listen to Hip-Hop. I’m a huge fan. Actually, I have a lot of friends who are Hip-Hop artists.

AHHA: Like who?

Wilmer: Chamillionaire is a good friend. Mike Jones has become a good friend. Fat Joe, Jadakiss, Busta Rhymes. There is a small circuit of us who cater to the same people, the same fans, and the same demographic so we bump into each other at a lot of events. It’s good to catch up with them and hang out.

AHHA: You grew up on the West coast…

Wilmer: Yeah! That’s what I play all the time - all my West coast rap. I have a lot of fans in the Hip-Hop world, but the people that are in my disc changer in my car are obviously Dr Dre, Snoop, and Tupac. Those are my all time favorite Hip-Hop songs.

AHHA: Did you grow up with Hip-Hop culture?

Wilmer: Yes. I grew up on Latin music because I grew up in Venezuela. And for the other half my life, I grew up on the West coast so that’s where I get a lot of my passion for the music.

AHHA: How did you come up with the concept for Yo Momma?

Wilmer: In the United States, “Yo Momma” jokes have been a part of pop culture in the past decade, and it has become such an underground gimmick to make fun. It’s not about making fun of. No one really knows what each other’s moms really look like, so it was kind of a funny gimmick that started out in the streets decades ago.

I was always very, very passionate about the underground battles, the basement battles, and Hip-Hop and freestyling. So I thought, “How can I do a comedy version of that? Why don’t I marry [the movie] 8 Mile with “Your Momma Is Fat” jokes?” - and that gave me a show. I took it to the real streets of the United States. I’m talking about the hoods - such as Inglewood, Compton, Brooklyn, Jamaica - the projects everywhere.

AHHA: And you give everyone a chance to battle…

Wilmer: That’s one of the main things about the show that I love so much. I get to meet my fans. A lot of artists don’t get the privilege of meeting their fans one-on-one, and going to the actual hoods where a lot of fans live. I’m able to meet the fans, reach out, and give them the chance to be on a show that they never thought they could be.

AHHA: What’s the worst “Yo Momma” joke you’ve heard?

Wilmer: The worst jokes are the ones that have been heard a thousand times. One of the worst is probably: “Your momma is so fat that she sat on a rainbow and turned it into skittles”. It’s like, “OK can give me something else?”

AHHA: Have you ever been offended by a joke?

Wilmer: No. Honestly, I don’t get offended by many things. Obviously, playing Fez on That ‘70s Show, I was making fun of myself over and over again, so I have very little shame. [laughs]

AHHA: What would you say to the hardcore Hip-Hop fans that think Yo Momma is corny?

Wilmer: You have to understand that there are so many levels to Yo Momma. If you go to the hood, everybody loves Yo Momma. People who don’t like are people who can’t relate to it. This is the first show that has been able to show America what kids from the hoods and the cities really look like. It’s a group of people that is completely under-represented on television because a lot of TV shows talk about the rich and famous. The reality shows are on rich kids. For me, that is not America. Let’s talk about diversity. Let’s talk about how multicultural it is.

AHHA: Did you know it was going to get another season, or is that something you had signed on for?

Wilmer: I knew the show was going to build a cult following, but I did not know that it was going to break all the record ratings at MTV. That was a gift from God. Especially for me as it was my first creation, my first baby. I got a lot of fans in the Hip-Hop world that love it so much. Fat Joe is a huge fan of the show. He came over to do an episode for this season, and he completely took over the show! He basically hosted it. It’s just such a different type of show. It’s a show for everyone, but not for everyone, if you really think about it.

AHHA: Are there any Hip-Hop appearances this season?

Wilmer: I like to keep them as a surprise! I will say definitely Jadakiss and Fat Joe. We have a few good friends that come by.

AHHA: Is there anything else coming out from your production company?

Wilmer: Absolutely. I’m developing a movie for Universal Films. I’m also developing three other [movie] projects for three different studios as well as three other reality show ideas for some networks and cable networks. The company is busy and I’m excited, because lately I’ve been putting my hands in a little bit of everything like restaurants. I have a couple of restaurants too.

AHHA: How did you get the part in That ‘70s Show?

Wilmer: The part came about through me auditioning for a pilot. They were auditioning for this character called Fez, and they were calling him Fez because they didn’t know what ethnicity he would be. Because they didn’t know where he was going to be from, I interpreted it in different ways and decided to give him characteristics from different countries, so on the show you didn’t really know. It was possible to assume but you didn’t know. Finally, they gave me the role and said, “You’re the guy.”

AHHA: Did you ever get tired of wearing tight pants?

Wilmer: Not really. [laughs] The stage that we would shoot from was really cold so it was OK, but I do have to say, my pants were tighter than any other co-star on the show and I’ll leave the rest up to everyone’s imagination.

AHHA: You must have had a lot in common with Fez, as you both immigrated to America, right?

Wilmer: Yes. A lot of cultural clash mistakes that Fez made were very close to the mistakes that I made. For me that was pretty funny, because I was making those mistakes a week before I shot the episode!

AHHA: What advice would you give to young Hispanics trying to fit into American culture?

Wilmer: That’s the beautiful thing about America. You don’t have to try to fit in. We formed this country to be multicultural. And that’s the most beautiful thing about this amazing, incredible, beautiful country we live in. We can all be ourselves, because we are beautiful and ourselves is what makes America.

When it comes to kids, the advice I would like to give them is find your uniqueness; find your originality that is going to dictate who you are going to be as a person and as a professional. Because that is what will make you the gentleman or the young woman you are going to be.

AHHA: Your appearance on Howard Stern was gangster.

Wilmer: [laughs] She said gangsta!

AHHA: Do you regret it?

Wilmer: That’s the past, so I don’t allow myself to think about it. I think when you go on the Howard Stern show you allow yourself to be very personal and have fun. Honestly if you heard it, you would have a different opinion that if you read it.

AHHA: Who are you dating now?

Wilmer: Right now I’m single. I’ve been working so much I’m rarely home.