Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Emmy-nominated filmmaker, and Tony-nominated producer Jose Antonio Vargas will be the speaker for the Asian Cultural Dinner at 5 p.m. April 12, at Illinois State University’s Brown Ballroom in the Bone Student Center.  

Hosted by University Housing, tickets for the cultural dinner are available here until April 5.    

A leading voice for the human rights of immigrants, Vargas founded the non-profit media advocacy organization Define American, named one of the World’s Most Innovative Companies by Fast Company. In 2020, Fortune magazine named him one of its “40 under 40” most influential people in government and politics.  

Vargas started his career at The Washington Post, where he won a Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Reporting in 2008. He gained national acclaim in 2011 when The New York Times Magazine published his groundbreaking essay in which he revealed and chronicled his life in America as an undocumented immigrant. A year later, he penned the cover story for TIME and appeared with fellow undocumented immigrants on the cover.  

As a producer and director, Vargas’ work has been celebrated. He received a 2015 NAACP Image Award nomination for Outstanding Documentary for the autobiographical Documented and an Emmy nomination for White People, a television special on what it means to be young and white in a demographically changing America.  

In 2019, Vargas co-produced Heidi Schreck’s acclaimed Broadway play What the Constitution Means to Me, which was nominated for a Tony Award for “Best Play” and is streaming on Amazon Prime Video. 

Vargas’ best-selling memoir, Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen, was published by HarperCollins in 2018. His second book, White Is Not a Country, will be published by Pantheon Books in 2023.  

Event sponsors for the evening include Event Management, Dining and Hospitality, Association of Residence Halls, Hewett-Manchester Diversity Coalition, Watterson Diversity Coalition, Tri-Towers Diversity Coalition, and Cardinal Court Council.