Entertainment

You Can’t Argue That John Leguizamo Isn’t Doing The Work To Uplift The Latino Community Every Day

Among the Latino celebrities that have made their political ideals crystal clear, we can certainly count actor John Leguizamo, who for more than two decades has been a force to be reckoned with both in Hollywood and independent cinema. John Alberto Leguizamo was born in Bogota, Colombia, on July 22, 1964. He is also a US citizen. Leguizamo has acted in small indie films such as Summer of Sam, but also in high profile franchises including John Wick and Ice Age. Leguizamo is as mainstream as it gets while retaining a humble personality. He has said: “I see the new Latin artist as a pioneer, opening up doors for others to follow.” He is proud of his language and his people. 

Leguizamo has worked with the likes of legendary filmmakers Spike Lee and George Romero while being unapologetic about his clear disdain for those in politics that incite division and perpetuate injustice. Here are some key moments of Leguizamo’s political activism and the never-ending fight for Latino rights. 

When he wrote an incendiary op-ed for The New York Times in 2016, right before the election.

Credit: Screenshot. The New York Times.

It was fantastic, and it was titled “Too Bad You’re Latin.” It was a real call to action. “We need a Latino Spring in this country,” he wrote. “We need to demand power and equal opportunity”. Of course, he aimed his guns at POTUS: “Donald J. Trump has done one good thing. He has galvanized a conflicted and diverse community. For years, activists and politicians have struggled to get Latinos to vote and show their power.”

When he narrated the HBO documentary The Latin Explosion: A New America.

Credit: The Latin Explosion: A New America / HBO

Latino culture in the United States has gone mainstream, and popular culture outside of Spanish-speaking circles is dictated by what celebrities such as Shakira, Sofía Vergara, and Ricky Martin do. Leguizamo celebrates the many accomplishments of Latinos in the entertainment industry by narrating this documentary feature. 

When he boycotted Saturday Night Live over a Donald Trump hosting gig.

Credit: john-leguizamo-donald-trump-yahoo. Digital image. Screener TV

In 2015, after Trump initially enraged the Latino community describing Mexican migrants as “rapists”, Leguizamo collected signatures opposing the then candidate’s appearance in the show. He said: “What he says doesn’t even fall into the category of (politically correct). It is hate mongering. I hope what I do in my work is not denigrating or belittling. I mean, I’m all for freedom of speech, don’t get me wrong. I believe in freedom of speech. This is different. If he had said those things about any other ethnic group, he would not be on SNL.” Preach, Johnny!

When he played Raymond Santana Sr., a proud father in When They See Us.

Credit: When They See Us / Netflix 

Leguizamo portrays the father of one of the Exonerated 5 with aplomb, and with Latino sass and pride. Leguizamo embodies any Latino father who believes in his kid while also acknowledging that racial politics are not always in favor of minorities. We love the rage, vulnerability, and love that Leguizamo is able to infuse his character with. 

When he decided to do his awesome Netflix special Latin History for Morons.

Credit: Latin History for Morons / Netflix

Leguizamo released an amazing Netflix special in which he basically unpacks the history of Latin America and Latinos in the United States in a brutal, yet humorous way. He talks about the savage Spanish rule in the continent, migration and the importance of preserving Spanish. The special is based, of course, on Leguizamo’s one-man Broadway show. Wanna see him? Visit  https://latinhistorybroadway.com/ for dates and tickets! Billboard raves about his show: “Latin History for Morons couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. It feels like the perfect complement to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. And it provides a security blanket for people of color in knowing their place and value in a world that’s constantly telling them they don’t matter.” You had us at “morons”. 

He supports Latino politicians to bring our community to power.

Credit: Instagram. @johnleguizamo

The 2020 election will be defined by the variety of voices among the Democratic presidential hopefuls, regardless of whether Donald Trump gets reelected or not. Leguizamo stands by his ideas and supports candidates like Julian Castro, a proud Latino!

He puts his money where his mouth is, supporting Latino talent.

Credit: Instagram. @johnleguizamo

Leguizamo owns NGL Collective, a media company that produces content for the Latino market. Their philosophy: is based on being a “company forged from a pioneering entrepreneurial spirit that today is a leading digital media and entertainment company super-serving the US Latinx marketplace”. Not many seasoned Hollywood actors would actually put manos a la obra, but Leguizamo is not just any celebrity. He says: “I like helping people achieve their dreams just like people helped me.”

He always speaks out against hate.

Credit: Instagram. @johnleguizamo

On his Instagram account, where he is very active by the way, he often shares heartbreaking stories of racial abuse against Latinos. For example, this terrible act of violence against a mother who was physically abused while picking up her son from school. 

Leguizamo has said basta to the way that authorities are treating kids at the border.

Credit: Instagram. @johnleguizamo

Leguizamo has been one of the most fierce critics of the zero tolerance position of the Trump administration. As a true connoisseur of US history, Leguizamo often points to the fact that this country was built on the shoulders of immigrants who arrived from all over the world seeking to build a better life. Leguizamo is also often attending marches and raising funds for just causes. He once said: “When you feel the world is against you or you give up hope, you look at your heroes and say, they were able to do it. They had hard times and a lot of opposition but they got through it. Then you feel, I can do it too”. We wonder how many young Latinos look up to him; we are guessing un chingo

He spreads his gospel of truth.

Credit: Instagram. @johnleguizamo

Amen to this great message on his Insta, where he encapsulates his believes. LGBTQ rights, immigration rights, women’s rights, Black lives mater, we should save the planet and treat each other kindly. If we all lived by these principles otro gallo nos cantaria and the world would be a much better place. Se vale soñar

We’ve all wished that some of his jokes were actually facts.

Credit: Instagram. @johnleguizamo

If 20 years ago someone had said that the host of a reality show in which the premise was to fire people and basically humiliate them for the sake of ratings would be sitting in the Oval Office, we would have laughed that suggestion off as pure silliness, right? And yet… So this suggestion by Leguizamo that he could run in 2020 is not totally nuts, is it?  By the way: did you see the awesome Mexican actress Kate Del Castillo liked this post? What about she runs for vice president?

READ: ‘To Wong Foo’ Is An Undeniable Gay Cult Classic And John Leguizamo’s Role As A Drag Queen Is Still One Of The Best Performances

Greta Thunberg Has Launched A Global Movement Trying To Save The Planet From Greedy Corporations

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Greta Thunberg Has Launched A Global Movement Trying To Save The Planet From Greedy Corporations

Stephanie Keith / Getty Images

If you’ve made it through the week without watching or hearing all about Greta Thunberg’s emotional and moving speech at the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York; here it is.

The Swedish climate activist shamed world leaders this Monday in a passionate and furious speech, for failing younger generations by not taking sufficient steps to stop climate change in what has turned into a viral news story around the world. “You have stolen my childhood and my dreams with your empty words,” said the 16-year-old. “How dare you,” she continued while holding back tears. 

“I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to us for hope. How dare you? You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words,” she told the U.N. UN Climate Action Summit 2019 aimed at strategizing ways to curb the effects of climate change

In case you’re still left wondering, who exactly is Greta Thunberg and what is she campaigning for, ask no further, we got you covered. Here are just a few facts on the relentless teenage activist who has called out world leaders and scolded their actions on this hugely important issue.

People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction,” Thunberg told the summit. “And all you can talk about is money and fairytales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!”

Greta first gained notoriety after staging a “School Strike for Climate” in front of the Swedish parliament in August last year.

Credit: @shallow_nel / Twitter

Thunberg’s idea of a global walk-out in the name of climate change drew millions of young people around the world demanding change. Last year, she was along in front of the Swedish parliament demanding action.

She continued to gain popularity after speaking at the U.N. Climate Talks in Poland in December of 2018. “This is the biggest crisis humanity has ever faced,” she said to UN secretary-general António Guterres before the conference. “First we have to realize this and then as fast as possible do something to stop the emissions and try to save what we can save.”

Her strike for climate change inspired young people all around the world, resulting in tens of thousands of students to join her #FridaysforFuture school walkout demonstrations. Young people in more than 123 countries skipped school to demand tighter climate policies and the reduction of greenhouse-gas emissions.

Her actions to fight against climate change caught the attention of the people at the Nobel Peace Prize.

Credit: @GretaThunberg / Twitter

Greta was nominated for a Nobel peace prize, which would make her the youngest recipient of the award won by the likes of Nelson Mandela, and Mikhail Gorbachev. “We have proposed Greta Thunberg because if we do nothing to halt climate change it will be the cause of wars, conflict, and refugees.” said Norwegian Socialist MP Freddy André Øvstegård in an interview with The Guardian.

She is leading by example.

Credit: gretathunberg / Instagram

The teenager traveled to the US on board a zero-emission sailboat to draw attention to the greenhouse gas emissions caused by air travel. A single round-trip flight between New York and California generates roughly 20 percent of the greenhouse gases your car emits in a year. In Sweden, she is said to be credited for the spread of the term ‘flygskam’ which translates to “flight shame,” which has encouraged Swedes to avoid traveling by air.

She has Asperger’s and won’t be shamed about it.

Credit: gretathunberg / Instagram

Four years ago, Greta was diagnosed with Asperger’s, a form of autism. “Being different is a gift,” she told BBC. “It makes me see things from outside the box…If I would’ve been like everyone else, I wouldn’t have started this school strike for instance.”

Her biggest inspiration is an American Civil Rights icon.

Credit: @SamJamesWard / Twitter

Rosa Parks is reportedly Greta Thunberg’s inspiration. “One person can make such a huge difference,” she said to Rolling Stone magazine about the civil rights activist who refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on a segregated bus.

Thunberg’s glare at President Trump is a social media mood.

Credit: @MatAuryn / Twitter

Greta’s speech this Monday didn’t go down well with President Donald Trump, who has questioned climate change and has challenged every major U.S. regulation aimed at combating it. He took to twitter to mockingly comment on the 16-year-old activist: “She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see!”

She even trolled him after he made comments about her.

Credit: @weijia / Twitter

Greta clapped back by changing her Twitter bio to include Trump’s own words calling her: “A very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future.” *Drops mic*

Her fight is not slowing down.

Credit: gretathunberg / Instagram

Greta continues to miss school on Fridays to protest climate change. This year on September 20, she led the largest climate strike in history, which included an estimated 4 million people across 161 countries to combat the use of fossil fuels and their catastrophic effects on global warming and future generations worldwide.

READ: AOC Is Putting The GOP On Notice For Preventing Science From Saving American Lives From Climate Change

The Remarkable Life And Career Of Edward James Olmos, Who Continues To Represent Us Proudly

Entertainment

The Remarkable Life And Career Of Edward James Olmos, Who Continues To Represent Us Proudly

Crosa / Flickr

It’s no secret that the Hollywood industry has a diversity problem. The exclusion of Latinos in the arts was the basis of a study conducted by Professor Stacy L. Smith and the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. The results, which were released last month, were dismal. As of 2018 “only 4.5 percent of all 47,268 speaking or named characters across the last 12 years were Latino and a mere 3 percent of lead or co-lead actors.” For Latinos, this news is not a surprise. That is why we hold Latino actors, the few that have gotten the chance to work and especially those that have been in the Hollywood industry for decades, with such high regard. For us, there is one such person that not only has been our representation in Hollwyood but has also told the story of historic Latinos.

Edward James Olmos has led a remarkable career in film and television that spans more than 45 years. 

Credit: kenmjohnson / Instagram

This Mexican-American thespian has 121 acting credits to his name, and that does not include his work on Broadway, as a director, or composer. Within his storied career in Hollywood, Olmos has an estimated 29 awards in his field and 27 nominations. It would surprise some people to know that Olmos had aspirations that didn’t include acting at all.

Olmos was born in Los Angeles and grew up in Boyle Heights and in Montebello, California.

Credit: Pinterest

In a 2013 interview, Olmos said he had a strong work ethic thanks to his parents who were always working. He was raised by his great grandparents and strived to try it all from sports to music and even politics. As a young teen, Olmos wanted to be a baseball player. He also the lead singer of a band. “I really had a strong passion for baseball,” Olmos said, who was first caught up by the sport at age five. But admits he didn’t have the talent for it at such a young age. He said it was the divorce of his parents, around the age of seven, that made him want to dedicate himself to the sport. He said baseball taught him a lot about discipline which helped him understand his capabilities as a person. In 1960, around the age of 15 and 16, Olmos began to have another passion. He wanted to be a rock n’ roll star. Even though he said he couldn’t sing very well, he called himself a performer. For two years that he performed in a rock band, Olmos said his father stopped talking to him because he didn’t approve of his new path. 

After years as a stage actor, his breakthrough role came in 1981 in the film “Zoot Suit.”

Credit: crooked_is_the_path / Instagram

In 1964, while in college, Olmos took his first acting class. He said his discipline of baseball and his passion for singing lead him naturally to consider acting. He said he tried auditioning but always got turned down. He kept at it and studied acting under the greats. He started doing theater in Los Angeles, and in 1978 he got a role in the theater production of “Zoot Suit” about the true story of the 1943 riots in Los Angeles that resulted in the arrests of many Latinos. In 1979, Olmos received a Tony Award nomination for his role of  El Pachuco. In 1981, a film version of the play hit theaters and Olmos comprised as El Pachuco once again. 

In 1988, Olmos portrayed the true story of math teacher Jaime Escalante in the beloved film “Stand and Deliver.”

Credit: brandon_bruce_lee / Instagram

The story depicts how students from  James A. Garfield High School in East Los Angeles overcame immense obstacles to pass AP Calculus tests during their senior year. The film received several Independent Spirit Awards including for Best Male Lead, which Olmos won, and Best Supporting Male for actor Lou Diamond Phillips. Olmos also received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. Olmos remembers that role fondly and with emotion. “Nobody wanted to give us a penny to tell the story of a Bolivian man helping kids take a math test,” he said earlier this year to Remezcla.  “Watching my performance, I realized what he gave us, it was like catching lightning in a bottle and we did it.” 

Today, Olmos continues to have a stellar body of work from “Battlestar Galactica” to “Portlandia” and “Mayans M.C.”

Some of his most recognized roles including in “Selena,” “Blade Runner,” “American Me,” and “My Family” and the work he is doing today on television has solidified Olmos as an icon in Hollywood and within the Latin community. 

“In 1964, when I started out we weren’t 22 percent of the population of the U.S, we were much less. We were also less than 2 percent of all the content in television and film. Today, with 22 percent of the population, we are still less than 4 percent of all content. We are in a worse place now,” he said. While that is an unfortunate fact, we’re still so thrilled and proud that he continues to represent us today. 

READ: 30 Years After Being Released, Here’s Where The Cast Of ‘Stand And Deliver’ Are Today