30 Years After Being Released, Here’s Where The Cast Of ‘Stand And Deliver’ Are Today
Thirty years ago this year, “Stand and Deliver” was released to the masses and nobody could have predicted the explosive success of the movie. Cuban born Ramón Menéndez was passionate about finding real high school students in el barrio to play the parts. After a disastrous attempt at getting high school students to become instant stellar actors, someone suggested using existing Latino actors who had only been given the opportunity to play one-dimensional violent gang members on screen.
This film gave Latin America some decent racial mirroring for one of the first times, and gave Latinos in Hollywood an opportunity to have range. Also, it gave us a go-to favorite movie you just expected to watch when you had a math sub.
The resemblance between real life Jaime Escalante and Edward James Olmos was uncanny.
The real story goes that Jaime Escalante became a math teacher at James A. Garfield High School in East Los Angeles. In real life, he started teaching AP Calculus to a group of 14 students, of which only five students stayed the course through the end of the year. Only two students passed the AP exam.
Edward James Olmos as Jaime Escalante
Unlike in the movie, Escalante realized he needed to give students years of preparation before taking the AP class. He offered intensive seven-week summer sessions every year to the same students until the infamous class we all know and love.
Edward James Olmos Now
The actor is now 71 years old, and that’s what his face looked like after Mexico beat Germany this year. He was the first Mexican-American to earn an Oscar nomination. He’s known for his roles as Lt. Marty Castillo in “Miami Vice,” Selena’s father in “Selena,” Detective Gaff in “Blade Runner” and the voice of Chicharrón in “Coco.”
Rosana DeSoto as Fabiola Escalante
DeSoto played Jaime’s supportive wife, Fabiola, in the film. Fun fact: the boy who played Jaime Jr., their son, was the actual son of real life Jaime Escalante.
Rosana DeSoto Now
Born in San Jose, California, DeSoto is the daughter of Mexican immigrants and spent most of her childhood handpicking fruit. She was one of nine siblings and went on to graduate from San Jose State University in Spanish Literature and Drama.
We last saw her as Sonia in “Once Upon a Wedding” in 2005.
Lou Diamond Phillips as Angel Guzman
Angel was the toughest cookie to crack. He was a member of the Maravilla gang, and while he definitely showed up as a tough guy that got him kicked out of the class, he’s thirst for learning took over. He begged Escalante to stay in the class and proved that he had a natural talent for math.
Lou Diamond Phillips Now
Lou Diamond Phillips is actually not Latino. He was born in the Phillipines and is a mix of Scottish, Irish and Filipino. He was nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance in “Stand and Deliver.” Before that role, he made it big in “La Bamba,” but just the year before he was an uncredited terrorist in “Time Bomb.”
Vanessa Marquez as Ana Delgado
In a LA Times article, we learned that Ana Delgado “was the only teenage character in the film based on a real person.” Her name was changed, but the shy girl who was almost forced to drop out to work in her father’s restaurant. Escalante really did show up at her house and talk with her father, and she was able to stay in school.
Vanessa Marquez Now, deceased
Vanessa Marquez was tragically killed by a Pasadena police officer on August 30, 2018. She went on to lead a successful career in film and TV and was a key player in the “ER” family. Unfortunately, she suffered from mental illness and was having a seizure when police showed up to her Pasadena home to conduct a welfare check. Ninety minutes into a conversation with authorities, she pulled out what we later learned was a BB gun and pointed it at police, who then opened fire.
She was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Ingrid Oliu as Guadalupe “Lupe” Escobar
Lupe started out literally protesting Escalante’s educational tactics (i.e. giving quizzes), but eventually became the mother hen and urged her classmates to take the class seriously.
Angel also called her gordita and the queen laid it out, “Don’t call me gordita, pendejo.”
Ingrid Oliu Now
We know Oliu from “Stand and Deliver” but we also adore her as Estela, America Ferrera’s sister, in “Real Women Have Curves.” We last heard from her when she voiced the role of Officer Renee Montoya in “Batman.” Whatchu up to girl?
Patrick Baca as Javier Perales
Javier was the stereotypical nerd of the class, but he was in no way shy. He was a total know-it-all and the class got hella annoyed with him. His ego was taken down a notch when he got a low grade from Escalante and was given no special treatment for his previous smarts.
Patrick Baca Now
Baca won the Michael Landon award for his performance in “Stand and Deliver,” and has since been nominated for his roles in short films ever since. He’s been busy and we expect to see him in four films that have yet to be released including “Road to Redemption,” “Offer and Compromise,” “Santa’s Boots” and “Hunting Season.”
Will Gotay as Francisco “Pancho” Garcia
Pancho is here for the money. He’s a young mechanic, eager to get to work and start making money, and easily discouraged by complicated math problems. Over time, Escalante convinces him that his education is the key to a successful career and he digs into the problems, solving them over time.
Will Gotay Now
Today, Gotay is an Executive Chef. He did go on to perform in “Dolly Dearest” and “Liberty & Bash,” but is living his best life in the kitchen.
Lydia Nicole as Rafaela Fuentes
Rafaela is a recent immigrant to the U.S. and is pretty quiet for the majority of the film. She doesn’t quite fit in with the overly feminized girls that grew up in East LA, and is more of an androgynous, quiet beauty with brains.
Lydia Nicole Now
@iamlydianicole / TwitterNicole grew up in the Spanish Harlem neighborhood of New York. Her radio work brought her to California where she worked in entertainment. Today, she’s best known for hosting the “Common Sense Mamita” web series, where you can find her gathering some “Stand and Deliver” cast members today for reminiscing.
Fun Fact: Senator Rand Paul has plagiarized from the “Stand and Deliver” Wikipedia page.
Yup, he just straight up read the Wikipedia page of the movie on a speech on immigration in June 2013. Thank you, Rachel Maddow, for giving us this fact.
South Park spoofs Escalante in a 2008 episode, titled “Eek, a Penis!”
It was a bit of a twofer. The movie tells the true story of how the students were mistreated with suspicion from the AP Board after they all passed and were forced to retake the exam to maintain their scores.
In this bit, it was also spoofing the NFL controversy around Patriots coach Bill Belichick being caught cheating.
Either way, long live “Stand and Deliver,” and may math teachers request many subs in it’s 30th year anniversary.
In December 2011, the United States Library of Congress selected the film for preservation in the National Film Registry for it’s “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” values offered by Latino filmmakers.
Thank you Escalante for your own perseverance in changing the story of those high school students, and inspiring all of us.