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. 

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

‘Roma’ Star Aparicio Is Named UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador And Will Advocate For The Rights Of Indigenous Peoples

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‘Roma’ Star Aparicio Is Named UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador And Will Advocate For The Rights Of Indigenous Peoples

Within a matter of just a year, Mexican actress Yalitza Aparicio has made a name for herself as both an artist and an activist. Earlier this year, the 25-year-old actress, born in Tlaxiaco, Mexico, made history as the first indigenous actor nominated for the best actress award at the Academy Awards for her breakout role in the film “Roma.” In the months after the film came out, the actress has worked hard to display her Mixteco language and heritage, financially support Oaxan students from her hometown, and combat any stereotypes or ignorant impressions you might have of indigenous people. For her work, the young actress is, once again, being honored. 

This time, it’s with a wonderful new role with the United Nations’ cultural agency United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as a goodwill ambassador for indigenous people.

On Friday, UNESCO— a Paris-based organization— announced that they had appointed Aparicio to help them advocate for gender equality and indigenous rights. 

yalitzaapariciomtz / Instagram

In an interview about her newest role, Aparicio said that she felt “proud to be an indigenous woman” and would like to aim “to go hand in hand with UNESCO in the best way, to be able to support these indigenous communities.”

According to NBC News, the young actress also said that it was her hope that she would pass on the traditional wisdom of indigenous communities as well as combat racism. “As my grandparents used to say: ‘You have to take care of the land because you eat it.’ So hopefully we learn this part,” she said.

During her announcement of her new role, Aparicio said that it would also be her goal to shed light on the various legal complications that indigenous people face in the government systems around the world. 

yalitzaapariciomtz/ Instagram

“There are several cases where there are indigenous people who are judged in a foreign language, without the right to have a translator and I think it’s something that we should take action on”, she said.

There’s no doubt that based on the year Aparicio has had that she is a woman who understands first hand why advocacy for indigenous people is so important. 

yalitzaapariciomtz / Instagram

The Academy Award-nominated actress Yalitza Aparicio became the first Mexican woman to receive such an honor. However, despite the respect and esteem, she should have earned, it wasn’t uncommon for her to receive unwarranted racism from her community of actors in Mexico. At one point, telenovela star Sergio Goyri used racist slurs to say that he didn’t feel Yalitza Aparicio deserved an Oscar nomination. In a video posted to the veteran actor’s Instagram, he  commented that Aparicio should not have received a nomination for an Academy Award saying  in Spanish “Que metan a nominar a una pinche india que dice, ‘sí señora, no señora’, y que la metan a una terna a la mejor actriz del Oscar.

In English, his offensive and vulgar language translate to “That they nominate an Indian click that says, ‘Yes ma’am, no ma’am’, and that they put it in a shortlist for the best Oscar actress.”

Later the actor apologizes saying that it was “never my intent to offend anyone. I apologize to Yalitza, who deserves [the Oscar nomination] and much more,” the 60-year-old said on Instagram. “For me, it is an honor to see a Mexican be nominated for an Oscar.”

Staying above it all like always, Aparicio responded to Goyri’s offensive remarks by stating that she was proud of who she is and where she is from. 

“I am proud to be an Oaxacan indigenous woman, and it saddens me that there are people who do not know the correct meaning of words,” Aparicio said in a statement to The Guardian.

“Roma” director, Alfonso Cuarón, also came to the defense of Aparicio this week by saying that Goyri’s words should be a broader discussion as to why people, particularly in Mexico, have those feelings, and also why the media perpetuates stereotypes.

With all that Aparicio has experienced, we’re excited to see what she does for Indigenous people in her newest role.

Aparicio has continued to prove this year that she is nothing but a rising star on the scene. Despite the fact that English was not a language she knew fluently when she took up her first Hollywood film (and first film!) she continues to be the face of international success and proof that anyone can come from any circumstance and get to the top. We hope that her new role she will outshine any ignorance and cruelty that might come her way and that she will continue the fight for freedom for Indigenous people everywhere.

The Trailer For Harley Quinn’s Spin-Off ‘Birds Of Prey’ Dropped And We’re Loving The Diversity of The All-Female Super Hero Troupe

Entertainment

The Trailer For Harley Quinn’s Spin-Off ‘Birds Of Prey’ Dropped And We’re Loving The Diversity of The All-Female Super Hero Troupe

DC Films

Harley Quinn is back and she’s Joker-free in the upcoming ‘Suicide Squad’ spin-off. The first full trailer for DC’s ‘Birds of Prey And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn’ dropped this week and we’re loving everything about it. The film is set to be released early 2020 and when it does, it will feature a pretty diverse cast of badass ladies.

Most details of ‘Birds of Prey’ had been kept under wraps, except for a little sneak peak shared by Dr. Harleen Quinzel herself.

credit instagram @margotrobbie

Aside from the sneak-peek we got in January in the form of an Instagram post from Miss Harley Quinn herself, captioned “Miss me? 💋HQ”, and a tiny teaser trailer, most details of ‘Birds of Prey’ had remained under wraps. But after watching the first full official trailer we have enough details to piece the plot together.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YjpsGw7YlU8

In ‘Birds of Prey’ Harley gathers a group of uncongenial super-powered ladies to search for revenge.

credit Instagram @jurneebell

Birds of Prey is originally a DC Comics series based around an ever-changing line-up of female heroes, villains, and anti-heroes. The trailer for the movie opens with a drunk Harley Quinn pointing out that “a harlequin’s role is to serve; it’s nothing without a master.” She goes on to explain that her relationship with the Joker is through, and she’s looking for a “fresh start”, but as it turns out, Harley  “wasn’t the only dame in Gotham looking for emancipation.” After the breakup and naturally, a post heartbreak haircut, Harley puts together a group of uncongenial anti-heroines with similar motives, looking for revenge.

The team of iconic DC Comic ladies includes Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez), from the Gotham City Police Department; the Black Canary/Dinah Lance (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), who gave us a hint of her super-powered voice while singing in a club in the trailer; the crossbow-wielding Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead); and perhaps the DC Universe’s most lethal set of hands, Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco).

Margot Robbie is the person behind Harley Quinn’s own spin-off movie and she wanted to make sure to get a diverse team on-screen and behind the camera.

During an interview with Yahoo!, to promote her movie Terminal, actor turned producer, Margot Robbie, talked about how important it was for her to make sure to cast diverse leads. “real life isn’t so one specific image,” said Robbie, “We’ve got to reflect that onscreen.”

Television and film are supposed to depict our realities, right? That should mean showcasing characters of all races, genders, nationalities, sexual orientations, etc. as thought-out and well-developed characters, instead of relying on tactless stereotypes for laughs. Who we see on the screen needs to mirror the diverse world we live in. And while there has been a slight improvement in the last couple of years, the industry has still got a long way to go and it’s crucial that we begin to see diverse casts, directors, writers, producers, and film crews. 

Margot Robbie, the person behind Harley Quinn’s spin-off,  worked hard to build a diverse team for this movie, both in front of the camera and behind it. Robbie describes ‘Birds of Prey’ as an “R-rated girl gang film”. “I was like, Harley needs friends, Harley loves interacting with people, so don’t ever make her do a standalone film,” she said about her pitch during an interview with Collider. “She’s got to be with other people, it should be a girl gang. I wasn’t seeing enough girl gangs on screen, especially in the action space. So that was always a big part of it.” 

Just watching the trailer and seeing the group of diverse anti-heroes and women of color playing strong badass action-driven characters has us counting the days until the premiere. A study by the Creative Artists Agency (CAA) says that films with more diverse casts perform better at the box office than less diverse ones —Confirming what people and actors of color have been saying for years!

For the film, Robbie casted women with vastly different backgrounds and secured a female director and screenplay writer.

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The “Birds of Prey” are all women with different and vast backgrounds. Jurnee Smollett-Bell who’s playing Black Canary has described herself as “Blewish” aka black and Jewish and is 100% proud of her biracial ancestry. Rosie Perez (who plays Renee Montoya), was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, but considers herself Puerto Rican fist and foremost and has shown the world her pride for her heritage in the documentary “I’m Boricua, Just So You Know“. 

When “Birds of Prey” debuts in theaters next year, so will Ella Jay Basco. Bringing the character Cassandra Cain to life will be the young actress of Korean and Filipino ancestry’s big-screen debut. “I really want to represent the Asian community – that alone inspires me to act because representation and diversity in the industry is super important to me.” Basco revealed in an interview with A Book Of.

instagram @ellajaybasco

Director Cathy Yan has reportedly been tabbed to direct the movie, marking her first Asian female director to helm a DC movie. “…And then, of course, having a female director to tell that story,” Robbie said to Yahoo! “And giving a female director the chance to do big budget stuff, they always get ‘Here’s the tiny little film’… I was like, ‘I love action. I love action films. I’m a girl. What, are we meant to only like a specific thing’? So it was a hugely important to find a female director for this, if possible. But at the end of the day — male, female — the best director gets the job and Cathy was the best director.” she continued. The screenplay was written by Christina Hodson, who also wrote the Transformers sequel ‘Bumblebee’ starring Hailee Steinfeld, and who will also be writing DC’s “Batgirl” movie. 

“Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of a One Harley Quinn” is set to release on February 7, 2020. Other upcoming DC Extended Universe films include Wonder Woman 2, Cyborg and Green Lantern Corps.