'Jimmy Kimmel Live!' 's Guillermo Rodriguez Recalls How He Landed on the Show 18 Years Ago

Jimmy Kimmel's sidekick reflects on his career path in ABC's featurette series commemorating Hispanic Heritage Month

Guillermo Rodriguez, a beloved performer on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, is looking back on his path to the late night show as part of ABC's Hispanic Latinx Heritage Month featurette series.

In PEOPLE's exclusive first look at one of the featurettes, produced for the network's celebration of the month, Jimmy Kimmel's sidekick Rodriguez, 50, sits down with Cleto Escobedo III, the show's longtime musical director and band leader. Escobedo, 55, is also the only Latino band leader in late night TV, according to Rodriguez.

"I'm very proud of that," says Escobedo. "There's only a few of us that are lucky to have this gig and I try to do the best I can to represent us the way we should be represented."

Later in their conversation, Rodriguez, who is Mexican-American, recalls his origins with the show. Back in the day, he was a parking lot security guard — and once got caught sleeping in announcer Dicky Barrett's car.

"We come here to work, to work hard, and we always want to do our best and improve ourselves," he says. "When I got this job, I was in the parking lot and I was sleeping in Dicky's car, the announcer. He opened the door, he goes, 'What are you doing here?' I go, 'I'm trying to sleep — I'm so sorry!'"

JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE - Guillermo Rodriguez

"Dicky went straight and told Jimmy, 'Listen, this guy was sleeping in my car,'" he continues. "And Jimmy said, 'We got to put this guy in the show.'"

The TV personality first began appearing in skits during Kimmel's first season in 2003. Though he still maintains his security guard title, he's now a regular fixture alongside Kimmel, 53, on the nightly show.

Escobedo, a childhood friend of Kimmel's, has also been part of Jimmy Kimmel Live! from the jump.

"Jimmy called and said, 'Hey man, I think I'm going to have this show, do you want to be my band leader?' Of course I was like, 'Yes,'" he remembers in the featurette. "It's been the best gig ever."

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Escobedo's father also performs in the band each night as the second saxophone player.

"I play sax because he played sax when I was a kid — my dad sacrificed a lot for me," he says. "He was a musician for many years, he was on the road a lot before I was born. And then when I started going to school, he quit playing just so he could be home with me and got a job as a busboy at Caesar's Palace and worked there for 30 years."

"He left what he really loved to do," he adds. "So to be able to have hired him on this gig and [have] been playing with him for the last 18 years has been amazing and a gift for both of us."

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