Jose Antonio Vargas is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, filmmaker, and the founder of Define American, a campaign that seeks to elevate the conversation around immigration.
In June 2011, the New York Times Magazine published a groundbreaking essay he wrote in which he revealed and chronicled his life in America as an undocumented immigrant, stunning media and political circles and attracting international coverage. A year later, he appeared on the cover of TIME magazine worldwide with fellow undocumented immigrants as part of a follow-up cover story he wrote. Since then, he has testified at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on immigration reform, and written and directed Documented, a documentary film on his undocumented experience. It world premiered at the AFI Docs film festival in Washington, D.C. in June 2013, was released theatrically in May 2014, and aired on CNN in June 2014, having been acquired by CNN Films in November 2013 before its international premiere at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam.
He was a senior contributing editor at the Huffington Post, where he launched the Technology and College sections. Prior to that, he covered tech and video game culture, HIV/AIDS in the nation’s capital, and the 2008 presidential campaign for the Washington Post, and was part of the team that won a Pulitzer Prize for covering the Virginia Tech massacre. In 2007, Politico named him one of 50 Politicos to Watch. His 2006 series on HIV/AIDS in Washington, D.C. inspired a documentary film — The Other City — which he co-produced and wrote. It world premiered at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival and aired on Showtime. In 2010, he wrote an exclusive profile of Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg for the New Yorker.
The media’s evolution, and the breakdown of barriers between print and broadcast journalism, has guided his nearly 13-year reporting career. He’s written for daily newspapers (Philadelphia Daily News, San Francisco Chronicle) and national magazines (The Atlantic, Rolling Stone) and has appeared on several national and international television and radio programs, including Nightline, The O’Reilly Factor, and The Colbert Report. On HuffPost, he created the blog Technology as Anthropology, which focuses on tech’s impact on people and how we behave.
He taught a class on “Storytelling 2.0” at Georgetown University and served on the advisory board for the Knight-Batten Award for Innovations in Journalism, housed at American University. A very proud alumnus of Mountain View High School (‘00) and San Francisco State University (‘04), he loves jazz, hip-hop and anything by Gershwin, and worships at the altars of Altman, Almodovar, Didion, Baldwin and Orwell.
He dreamed of one day living in Manhattan after he saw Woody Allen’s version of it. He currently resides in Manhattan.