Entertainment

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

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. 

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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.

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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.”

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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.”

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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

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Lil Nas X’s Next Big Drop Is A Children’s Book Called ‘C Is For Country’

Entertainment

Lil Nas X’s Next Big Drop Is A Children’s Book Called ‘C Is For Country’

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Turns out Lil Nas X has more than just country rap up his sleeve. The 21-year-old “Old Town Road” rapper has a penchant for literature too.

On Tuesday, the rapper revealed that he’s written a children’s book called C Is for Country.

“I’m dropping the best kids’ book of all time soon!” the rapper shared in a Tweet earlier this week before adding that he couldn’t “wait to share it” with his fans and young readers.

Nas’s children’s book is being published under Random House Kids, a division of Penguin Random House. It is currently available for preorder on their site.

According to the Random House Kids’ website, the book is a story about Lil Nas X and Panini the pony.

“Join superstar Lil Nas X—who boasts the longest-running #1 song in history—and Panini the pony on a joyous journey through the alphabet from sunup to sundown. Experience wide-open pastures, farm animals, guitar music, cowboy hats, and all things country in this debut picture book that’s perfect for music lovers learning their ABCs and for anyone who loves Nas’s signature genre-blending style,” Random House describes in its explanation.

The book is illustrated by Theodore Taylor III and promises “plenty of hidden surprises for Nas’ biggest fans.”

C Is for County comes out Jan. 5.

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Netflix’s Newest Musical Teen Hit Series Stars a 16-Year-Old Afro-Latina Newcomer

Entertainment

Netflix’s Newest Musical Teen Hit Series Stars a 16-Year-Old Afro-Latina Newcomer

A new teen series has dropped on Netflix that the internet can’t stop talking about. The newest cultural phenomenon that has hit the juggernaut streaming service is a musical series called Julie and the Phantoms, based on the 2011 Brazilian show of the same name.

The series follows a 16-year-old insecure girl named Julie who has lost her love of music after the tragic death of her mother. But with the help of a (stay with us here) band of musical ghosts she stumbles across in her garage, she soon re-discovers her love of singing and performing. Backed by her band of “phantoms”, Julie confidently takes the stage again, blowing everyone away in the process. ,

But the wacky, heartfelt story-line isn’t the only reason people are excited about the show. The buzz around the show is building because its star, 16-year-old newcomer Madison Reyes, is an Afro-Latina singer-actress of Puerto Rican descent.

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Before landing the role of Julie, Reyes was just a regular shmegular Nuyorican girl going to high school in Brooklyn. Needless to say, the process of auditioning for Julie and the Phantoms was both a whirlwind and a game-changer.

“I found out about Julie and the Phantoms through my school. At first I was nervous to send my video in, but after talking to some friends, I sent it in and got a call back,” Reyes told Refinery 29. “From there it was just figuring out when I could fly to L.A. When I finally made it out there, the audition process lasted two days.”

Reyes, for one, understands the burden of her load. “[Julie] is Latin American, she’s got textured hair, she’s a strong and independent female character,” Reyes recently told the LA Times. “As a person of color who wants more diversity [on-screen], I’m kind of scared about the hate comments that I’ve seen other people have to go through, especially women.”

As if having an Afro-Latina actress at the center of a popular Netflix show wasn’t exciting enough, the series is also being helmed by Mexican-American director and all-around legend Kenny Ortega. For those of you unfamiliar with Ortega, he is the creative genius who directed bonafide classics like High School Musical and Hocus Pocus.

Ortega has been publicly effusive in his praise of Reyes. “She has this raw talent that can take on any genre of music, and this promise of greatness that excited everybody,” he told the LA Times. “And yet she’s so relatable and grounded.”

Fans are already calling for a second season after watching the cliffhanger season finale. Reyes, herself, can’t wait to get back in the shoes of Julie. When asked in an interview about where we’ll see her next, she responded: “Hopefully in the next season of Julie and the Phantoms!”. We second that wish.

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