John Leguizamo takes Katie Couric on a tour of his old Queens neighborhood

Katie Couric
Global Anchor

By Alexandra Zaslow

Queens has a healthy mix of both new and old, as multigenerational families stemming from countries all over the world are keeping their old traditions alive, while sharing the space with new younger residents. The incredible diversity of the borough is it’s backbone and perhaps it’s greatest attraction.

“We have people coming from over 130 countries,” states Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, “and with that, they are bringing all of their culture, their arts, their dancing, their music and their food.”

Someone who knows about the diversity of Queens all too well is actor John Leguizamo, whose family immigrated to the Jackson Heights section of Queens from Colombia.

“It’s the perfect human experiment,” John tells Yahoo Global News Anchor Katie Couric. “Everybody came to this neighborhood. Jackson Heights Elmhurst is the most diverse place in the world per square mile… and that’s what made this neighborhood great.”

John’s childhood in Queens remains a big influence on his work, especially in Ghetto Klown, his acclaimed one man show that was recently turned into a graphic novel.

“When I was here, everyone was trying to get out, now everyone is trying to get in,” John said.

John is one of many film and television actors who call Queens their hometown, including Ray Romano, John Turturro and John Favreau. And while many think Manhattan is the center of film and television production, the business is BOOMING in Queens. This is thanks to a variety of locations the borough has to offer, as well as the large studios, none more iconic than Silvercup Studios, right at the foot of the Queensborough bridge.

Silvercup Studios President Stuart Suna has seen everything from The Sopranos to Sex and the City to 30 Rock shot in his buildings, and has seen the industry continue to grow over the years.

“The huge transformation of the industry was really due to the New York State tax credits,” Stuart said. “It’s actually the highest return of investment of any tax break in the history of New York State. It has created over 100,000 new jobs.”

 

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