Sometimes it takes just one person to help create a movement. Case in point? Colombian reggaeton artist J Balvin, whose announcement last week that that he was cancelling his Miss USA performance in protest over pageant owner Donald Trump’s offensive comments about Mexicans helped trigger significant backlash against the real estate mogul. (Spanish simulcast co-hosts Roselyn Sánchez and Cristián de la Fuente followed Balvin’s example by pulling out their Miss USA gigs, and later, Univision, NBC and Mexican media giant Televisa each severed ties to Trump, as did NBC co-hosts Cheryl Burke and Thomas Roberts.) Here, Balvin—an award-winning artist who will kick off his first headlining U.S. tour in September—chats with EW about his fans reacted to his decision and whether he plans to address his experience in new music.
Entertainment Weekly: NBC just announced that it’s ending its business relationship with Trump and his Miss USA/Miss Universe organizations. How does that make you feel?
J Balvin: I think it went to another level. It’s amazing.
How do you feel about NBC’s decision to end its relationship with Trump and not air the Miss Universe and Miss USA pageants?
Well, I’m really grateful to them. I don’t know if they have any Latino partnerships, but it’s like, they really understand what’s going on right now with Latinos. You know, it’s all about treating us with respect. I think they did the right thing, made the right decision and made the right move. I’m really grateful to them. All Latinos are super happy about what their decision.
Do you feel like your actions helped inspire other to take a stand? You were the first to withdraw from the pageant.
Nah. I don’t think I’m a hero. That was the first thing I said. I’m not Robin Hood and I’m not Batman. I made a decision because I really wanted to do it, and it was a personal situation. I didn’t know it would blow up into something like this. But I’m really grateful, because when you do something with your heart, you can make a difference.
What lesson should be learned from this?
There’s a big lesson. Like, you have to think twice before you say something right. And in this case, when you’re Donald Trump, you have to think 10 times before you say something. [Laughs]
What have the fans said about your decision to withdraw from the Miss USA pageant?
They love it. They feel represented, you know, because we’re standing up and we’re saying to the world, “We’re here.” I’m so proud to be Latino. I’m so happy—not because of the bad things that are happening to Donald Trump, but happy that Latinos are standing up for themselves and asking to be respected.
Do you think you might write a song about your place in the events that have transpired around the pageant and Trump’s comments?
Well, let’s see. [Laughs] Let’s see what happens. I’m just waiting to see what Donald Trump does after this.
Trump reacted to your decision by saying you were never asked to perform and that he didn’t know you. What do you say to that?
[Laughs] I don’t know. He said he didn’t know me, but he didn’t have to be that rude about it. I think it’s called karma. Maybe he didn’t know me, but the organization that was doing business and asked me to perform knew me. He didn’t have to know me, but now he knows my name. And look—this little name with a big heart, helped create a big movement.