2017 WAVE Awards Spotlight: Jorge Estevez

By : Billy Manes
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In the lobby of the Dr. Phillips Center in downtown Orlando, WFTV News kingpin Jorge Estevez seems equally flattered and amused by his WAVE victories. The “centerfold” category is of particular interest.

“That is so much fun!” he laughs.“I love that category. I’m not biased at all.”

Estevez comes from a Puerto Rican and Cuban heritage, was born in New Jersey and studied journalism in school and to the tenor of former ABC World News Tonight anchor Peter Jennings. His father sat him down to learn those basics.

“I used to watch World News Tonight with my father, who came home from work after 12 hours a day and said, ‘I don’t have time to read the paper or learn English, so I watch the news and do both,’” he recalls. “As a kid I watched the world falling apart next to him.”

And then the world kept falling apart.

“I started in New York working for News 12 New York as a one-man band, so you do your own camera work and editing work,” he recalls.“ An agent heard about me and called me and said, ‘I want to represent you.’ And I came to Orlando a week before Sept. 11. Then the world fell apart, and I was here for that. And then, I was almost five years into it, and I went to Miami. At that point, there was nowhere here for me to move on. So I left. And every day I was gone, I wanted to come back. I loved Orlando. I loved the growing city, the potential, the fact that I could kind of get in at the bottom and see this whole thing happen before me was incredible.”

It wouldn’t be long before he returned to his adopted home. And he did so as a pivotal figure in the LGBTQ community. Estevez was an out journalist, something that remains a rarity even today.

“The reaction has been incredible,” he says. “It warms my insides. It makes me tear up. It makes me realize how fortunate I am to be living in today’s day and age after what so many of our brothers, sisters, allies and politicians went through for decades to get us here. I am benefitting from the fruits of their labor. Being open and honest scared the crap out of me years ago. When I left here, I really wasn’t out. I was out to my friends, I had a partner at that time for many years, and I left kind of not out. I remember having a conversation with my news director and saying, ‘I’m gay.’ And he said, ‘Yeah, I know. Nobody cares.’”

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