J.W. Cortes is an award-winning combat veteran-turned-actor, singer, and New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority Police Officer, who recently became an advocate for service members and veterans. Cortes is now a Hero Ambassador for Boot Campaign, a national nonprofit dedicated to promoting patriotism, raising awareness of veterans’ issues, and providing assistance to current and former military families.
Cortes is best known for originating his recurring role as “Detective Carlos Alvarez” on the FOX hit-series “Gotham.” While balancing his life as an police officer and actor, he has trained in New York City at the world renowned William Esper Studio under highly regarded acting instructor Terry Knickerbocker. As art imitates life, Cortes has played various police and military roles on shows such as NBC’s “The Blacklist” and “The Mysteries of Laura,” and CBS’ “Blue Bloods,” among others.
In 2012, he worked as an operative on NBC’s fierce reality television show “Stars Earn Stripes.” The bilingual Cortes was born and raised in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park, at the time a primarily Puerto Rican neighborhood on a street called by the NYPD as “little Vietnam,” that was surrounded by Methadone addicts and gangs. At 18 years old he realized he wanted more, and followed his father’s footsteps into military service.
He served in the U.S. Marine Corps for nearly 13 years, including tours for Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, for which he earned a Combat Action Ribbon and Navy & Marine Corps Achievement Medals.
In addition to his work with Boot Campaign, Cortes has dedicated himself to giving back and bringing attention to several causes and charities close to his heart: war veterans and children with disabilities. He also supports Autism Speaks and The Gary Sinise Foundation, and often travels the country singing at various military, sports, and charity events. In partnership with the Bob Woodruff Foundation, Cortes joined legendary Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters on stage at Madison Square Garden to help raise over six million dollars. “Rolling Stone” magazine described his performance as “Stunning!” saying he sounded like a mixture of a young Marvin Gaye and John Legend.
He is the proud father of two boys, a lucky husband, and loving owner of an American-bulldog named Blue.
On all social platforms, he is @jwcortes.