Life has its ups and downs. Some times, life is great and everything is really going your way. Other times, life gets tough, you make bad decisions and those decision can haunt you. These Latino actors didn’t want to have their rap sheet be the only thing people knew about them. They worked hard on getting sober, overcoming obstacles and eventually found starring roles in feature films and TV series. There is always room to honor those who have grown and changed to be the best they can be.
Around his 20s, actor and restaurateur Danny Trejo was in and out of jail. Trejo’s acting break came when he was a youth drug counselor for an actor on the set of a movie and Trejo was asked to be an extra in the film. From that role, Trejo continued to land additional roles in film and TV series. In 2016 he took his talents outside of just the entertainment industry and opened his first of three restaurants, Trejo’s Tacos.
Often seen as tough Letty Ortiz in the “Fast and the Furious” franchise, Michelle Rodriguez conquered a troubled personal life to make it to a lead in a blockbuster film franchise. Rodriguez had been arrested for assault against her former roommate before charges were dropped, and she also been arrested for DUI. She completed her community service requirements in 2009 and has not had legal troubles since then.
By the time he was 18, Johnny Ortiz had been surrounded by an upbringing filled with drugs and gangs, and had already spent time in jail. He shared with Project Eñye that while he was in jail, he prayed for a second chance. That second chance came in the form of an acting role after meeting his future life coach at a career day. He has had roles in the feature film “McFarland, USA” and in the TV series “American Crime.” In the video, Ortiz shares an important nugget of wisdom we could all learn from, “You create if you want to be happy, if you want to be sad, if you want to be mad.” Good to know he is creating his own reality.
“American Crime” actor Richard Cabral went from being a gang member looking at the possibility of a 35-year sentence to being up for an Emmy after his role on the ABC series. After turning his life around through the help of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, Cabral was able to focus on casting auditions and eventually landed his Emmy-nominated role.
Danny Trejo has played many roles over his long and storied career. Whether it’s been the bad guy or his beloved role as “Machete”, Trejo can do it all. On Wednesday, the 75-year-old actor played the part of a hero as he came to the rescue of a baby boy and his grandmother that were trapped in an overturned vehicle in Los Angeles.
The veteran Latino action actor was in the Sylmar neighborhood of Los Angeles when two cars crashed at the intersection of Hubbard Street and Jackman Avenue. According to Trejo, it appeared that the accident was caused by one driver running a red light. One of the cars was overturned due to the crash. That’s when Trejo and a fellow bystander jumped into action, rescuing a young special-needs child trapped inside, according to ABC7 Eyewitness News.
Danny Trejo squeezed his way into an overturned vehicle to save a child who was stuck due to a malfunctioning seat-belt.
Trejo would make his way into the overturned vehicle by crawling through the side of the wreckage. But he quickly found that the seat belt the child was in couldn’t unbuckle from that side of the car. Another women bystander nearby would join in on the efforts and crawl from the opposite side of the vehicle and was able to undo the buckle. The baby was then able to get saved from the car after Trejo pulled it out of the wrecked vehicle.
“I couldn’t get the baby out,” Trejo told CBS2. “I couldn’t unbuckle the seatbelt so she got in and undid the seatbelt. I pulled the baby out of the other side.”
The actor told reporters at the scene that he had prior experience working with special needs children. During the entire ordeal, Trejo calmed the young child and tried his best to distract him from the scene at hand.
“He was panicked. I said OK, we have to use our superpowers. So he screamed ‘superpowers’ and we started yelling ‘superpowers,” Trejo told ABC7. ” I said do this, with the muscles. He said ‘muscles.'”
Trejo and the young woman who saved the baby gave a quick interview and it’s exactly as nice as you’d expect.
While all this was taking place, the young boy’s grandmother was still trapped inside the vehicle. Located on the driver’s seat, firefighters had to use equipment to help remove her from the car. In total, The Los Angeles Fire Department said three people were taken to a local hospital, but there were no life-threatening or significant injuries.
At the scene, Trejo said he was thankful and credited good faith in life for everything turning out the way it did.
Trejo credited the car seat that the young boy was in that may have saved his life. “The only thing that saved that little kid was that car seat ― honest to God,” Trejo told a photographer on the scene.
When called a hero by some, Trejo brushed it off and instead pointed towards the sky and praised all the positivity in his life that has come his. Ever the optimist, Trejo also offered a lesson to take away for the horrible accident.
“Everything good that has happened to me has happened as a direct result of helping someone else,” Trejo told ABC. “Everything.”
Danny Trejo has become a hometown hero and many are praising the actor for his valiant efforts on Wednesday.
When news of his valiant efforts started making rounds on social media, many were quick to call Trejo a hero for his quick actions. The actor has garnered a strong following in the Latino community for his roles and devotion towards helping those in need in his own community. From taking on his dream of starting his own restaurant business, Trejos Tacos, to even developing a sitcom based on his life, Trejo has made a name for himself in the culinary and entertainment world.
Not only is @officialDannyT (Danny Trejo) one of the nicest actors, he’s also a #hero! He was right behind a crash in Sylmar and pulled a special needs baby out of an overturned car. He distracted the boy until grandma was OK.” Veronica Miracle, an ABC7 reporter, tweeted after interviewing Trejo at the scene.
Another person tweeted a similar sentiment about Trejo saying “I’ve met Danny on a few occasions so this doesn’t surprise me at all. He’s a good as they come and down to earth. Great job brother.”
Trejo offered one last piece of advice after the incident to drivers. “Pay attention!”
Danny Trejo is one of the most recognizable Latino faces in the world. He is a common feature in Hollywood films, where he often portrays antiheroes. Among his films, we can think of the classic Heat, Con Air, and Machete, the last with frequent collaborator Robert Rodriguez, the Texan director he considers a sort of creative brother. Trejo was born in Echo Park (doesn’t get more L.A. than that!) on May 16, 1944. He is a true example of the American Dream: he survived a rough upbringing and life in prison to become a successful and reformed individual who dedicates big chunks of his time to helping others. He creates jobs through his multiple business ventures and often speaks to youth about the importance of staying out of trouble, particularly if you belong to an ethnic minority.
He is the face of tender “bad hombres” (we just can’t get over this terrible moniker POTUS placed on Mexican men!)
As Daily Breeze recalls, he got a second chance in life after being to prison and suffering from addiction early in life: “Influenced by a young uncle, Trejo was off to a life of crime from an early age and did time in juvenile camps before eventually landing in Soledad and San Quentin state prisons for drugs and other crimes”. Rehabilitation is possible! You can’t judge a book by its cover (hear that, gringos racistas?) and the tough-looking Trejo is proof of that.
He is an entrepreneur at heart, the symbol of Latino hardworking individuals.
Trejo has opened a taco shop, a doughnut shop, and many other business ventures. The Daily Breeze says about Trejo’s many talents: “He’s a successful restaurateur with a growing taco and doughnut empire that shows no signs of cooling down. And even though he doesn’t drink, he’s got a beer out, too, a Mexican lager of course”.
He even has a new beer brand even though he is not a drinker.
This is what Daily Breeze said about Trejo’s cerveza: “Because even though he doesn’t drink alcohol, there really is nothing Trejo can’t do. But surprisingly, while Trejo is pretty much the toughest looking man in all of Los Angeles, his 4.7% ABV straw-colored beer is really smooth with an almost sweet taste, which means you can drink a few and still be able to take Machete in a fight. No, who are we kidding — Machete would destroy any of us”. A rave review in our books! Can you imagine sipping this brew with good old cevichito as you look at the Californian sunset?
He talks about men’s health in an open, frank way.
As The Sun reported, Trejo is on a mission to get dudes talking about their health, including erectile dysfunction. He is quoted as saying: “Every man on earth has experienced this, and if you say no, you’re lying and I’m calling you a liar. So there you go, Danny Trejo, called you a liar and now you don’t have to hide it.” He is even a bit funny talking about the trials and tribulations of not being able to rise to the occasion: “You can be 25-years-old and if you’re tired, you’ve been working all night, it’s late – sometimes it’s not going to happen. But especially in the Latino community where I’m from, men don’t talk about these things – because we’re supposed to be the hunter-gatherer or some sh*t. Well, I hate hunting”. Preach, Danny!
He is funny as hell on social media.
Really, he is like any Latino dad, uploading every single meme or viral trend he finds in a very dad joke kinda way.
He has been able to get meatier roles as the years have gone by: a true underdog story.
Trejo’s acting career has gone from being an extra to having better roles that sometimes play with his badass persona. He told The Guardian: “They Would Always Say, ‘Get That Mexican Guy With The Big Tattoo. I’d Show Up And Have One Line, Like, ‘Kill ’em All!’ Or Somethin’.”
He has one of those faces that just sparks creativity.
Just look at this wonderful piece of street art in Brazil. Trejo’s wrinkled face tells a thousand stories, it is a roadmap of a life that has encapsulated so many experiences that it could fill a hundred lives. Trejo us a symbol of second chances and of the many forms that Latino masculinity can take.
At 75 years of age, he shows that elderly doesn’t mean you can’t work out.
Any 20-year-old flojo would envy Trejo’s sculpted body. He told NY Daily Newsback in 2007: “I look at the script. If I see a part that says shirt-off, then I go to the gym”. Well, he hasn’t stopped working out by the looks of it (by “it” we mean his badass muscles).
He is a living example of how you can kick ass fighting addiction.
Trejo is now clean, but there was a time when he didn’t know if he would live a long life. He certainly didn’t expect to reach 70. The Guardian conversed with Trejo in 2018: “I didn’t even think I’d make it out of the 1960s. I picked the wrong role model. I picked my uncle, who was a drug addict and an armed robber. But he was the greatest guy in the world as far as I was concerned”. He experienced heroin for the first time when he was just 12-years-old, so the road to redemption was steep.
He is a caring Latino dad.
He has two children: Danielle and Gilbert. He often shares messages for them on social media. He has also helped his son on his own path towards rehabilitation from addiction.
Getting clean is something he did with his son.
He has travelled the path of staying clean with his son and has even collaborated with him in a film project where the young Trejo directs him.
He is super approachable for fans.
Don’t think twice: if you ever see him on the street or a fan convention, ask for a selfie.
He participates in most Latino projects, including the new movie version of Dora la exploradora!
Can you think of a better actor to give voice to Dora’s monkey, Boots? Neither can we.
He supports young female boxers and aspiring musicians. Did you know that?
Trejo Music is his new passion project! As he told Daily Breeze: “Everything good that has happened to me has happened from helping people, and I started this record label to help people. Let’s hear you and if you can fit, you’re on”. The label’s first album: Danny Trejo Presents Chicano Soul Shop Vol. 1. Can we please get it, like tomorrow. He is also a boxing manager and promoter and supports champion Seniesa Estrada.
And, of course, he gave us Machete, an icon of resistance against inhumane border policies.
Before the Trump era kicked in, Trejo was already kicking ass at the border by embodying Mexican ire against racist politicians and gringo vigilantes.