Diego Boneta is the celebrity crush you didn’t know you had.
He’s already a veritable superstar in his native Mexico and throughout Latin America—starring in wildly popular TV shows and releasing pop hit after pop hit—but remains relatively unknown stateside. However, the 25-year-old has been quietly winning over hearts since his debut on American screens. He’s made cameos on all your favorite guilty-pleasure shows, and now that he’s cemented his leading-man status on the hit series Scream Queens, Boneta is poised to become a household name in the US just as he is in Mexico.
Here are the five things you need to know about this bilingual, one-to-watch heartthrob…
1. Diego Boneta was discovered at the age of 12.
As a pre-teen, he entered the televised talent contest Código F.A.M.A., the Mexican equivalent of American Idol. Although he finished in fifth place, his musical chops were enough to pique the interest of the producer. “[She] sits me down and asks me, ‘What do you want to do?’ And I’m like, ‘I want to be the biggest entertainer who’s ever been!’ And she goes, ‘Great, the plan is you’re going to start acting…” Boneta told Men’s Fitness. Said producer then cast him as a lead in a new television show. From there, Boneta’s acting career boomed and he became a Mexican celebrity for his lead role on the soap opera Rebelde.
2. He’s probably already stolen your heart... At least, on screen.
Although his name is less recognizable stateside than it is in Latin America, you may already recognize those dashing good looks. He’s played the swoon-inducing love interest on 90210, Pretty Little Liars and Jane the Virgin. Of his current job on Scream Queens, Boneta says, “The show is a dark comedy with horror, but it’s a very twisted humor and the horror is very twisted too.”
3. Boneta was rejected by Glee.
Given his proven musical gift, small-screen experience and undeniable good looks, you’d think Boneta was a shoo-in for the role of Sam Evans on Glee. When he was passed over for the role, his confidence took a major hit and he nearly gave up on “making it” in the U.S. As he told The Chicago Tribune: “It was for sure the most humbling experience of my life… [In Mexico] I had shot TV shows and been on a massive worldwide tour playing soccer stadiums. [But in the US] nobody cared. I had to start over.”
Ultimately things worked out for the best. Boneta’s rejected YouTube Glee audition tape caught the attention of producer Adam Shankman, who enthusiastically cast him as the aspiring musician, Drew Boley, in the Hollywood adaptation of Broadway hit Rock of Ages. Starring opposite the likes of Tom Cruise and Julianne Hough, it was Boneta’s breakout role in the U.S., cementing his rise from television actor to movie star.
4. Even his favorite pastime is adorably sexy...
Boneta has been working in the entertainment industry since he was a child, so it’s not a huge surprise that in his rare downtime, he prefers the low-key life. While other Hollywood heartthrobs are patronizing the hottest A-list clubs and restaurants, Boneta can be found at the stables, spending his free time riding horses.
5. James Dean is his style icon.
Boneta takes his biggest fashion cues from the legendary Rebel Without a Cause star, applying Dean’s iconic formula to his everyday look: “Cool jeans, white T-shirt, cool shoes and maybe a leather jacket,” he says. Boneta also cites a young Marlon Brando’s classically masculine style as major wardrobe inspiration. It’s been said that clothes maketh the man, but in a recent interview with Latina magazine, Boneta explains that the style clincher for him is footwear, always: “I like cool shoes—to me, the shoes are kind of what make [the outfit.]”
Watch Diego Boneta’s latest music video Ur Love here and in the hotly anticipated biopic Pelé, out later this year.