Edward James Olmos Interviewed for "Latino Thought Makers" Series with Rick NajeraSeeing Olmos speak on Saturday April 30 was something of a bucket list moment for me because he has been a part of the pop culture collective consciousness of LatinXs in the US, especially Mexican Americans of my parents' generation who had few role models reflected back at them from the 'silver screen.' Author of Almost White: Forced Confessions of a Latino in Hollywood, Rick Najera interviewed Olmos, who is the godfather to Najera's kids and a longtime friend.
Olmos in his April 30 Interview with Rick Nagera
Olmos on His Career and Storytelling
He said he talked to teachers early in his career but he thought that the students needed to hear from someone successful but he realized they also need to hear from people doing things.
Olmos said that if you want to grab an audience, tell a story.
He explained that he changed his life by telling stories about his culture.
Although Olmos said some actors did not want to be a hyphenated "Latino-American" actor. There were those who did not want to be tagged with this, but Olmos said its fine, "I'm 1000% Latino."
Teachers and UnionsOlmos explained that he represents unions of the world and he said that school systems have to be regulated by unions and influence what happens in the classroom. He added that he would never cross a picket line but he tells union leaders to watch out for him if they're not doing their job as a leader.
Olmos said he takes his hat off to teachers because he doesn't know anyone who did it without a teacher but doesn't guarantee they're all doing great work.
On American Me and Stand and Deliver
Stand and Deliver, Olmos said, is shown 10,000 times each year by teachers. Najera added that American Me is the most stolen DVD ever.
Teaching Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Communication with Filmmaking
Students learning about films is the single most effective way for them to understand that's everything being taught math everything goes up allow them to feel something inside the classroom.
Olmos even said that Chapman University (where I earned my MA and MFA) is the first to accept students without standardized test, instead by way of evaluating their film reel submissions. Olmos said students learn all stages of writing, storyboarding, pre-and post-production, and that distribution will be where things are going to change.
Reiterating his point, he said no poem or book or performance art is as effective as the visual-audio medium projected on the screen, adding that the people who learn it will "dominate the future."
Olmos in Poch@ PopTo provide further context for Olmos' comments during his interview with Rick Najera, I conclude with a quote from my book Reclaiming Poch@ Pop:
"Edward James Olmos has represented the street-wise pachuco watching their backs, the strong role model as teacher, head of family, and captain on intergalactic voyages traversing the collective pop cultural memory. Olmos’ presence challenges the racist punchline for the joke about “why there were no Latinas/os on Star Trek,” by proving that Latinas/os want to work, and do in fact work in the future. More importantly, many of the television programs and films that Olmos has starred in have marked temporal signposts for many Latina/o audiences in the U.S.
I still recall when I was eight years old and I saw Stand and Deliver (1988) in theaters twice. For my family, the film inspired a sense of pride. Both of my parents were educators: my mother taught English as a Second Language (ESL) at my elementary school and my father taught English at a Hispanic-Serving community college. Therefore, Olmos’ portrayal of real-life educator Jaime Escalante, the East Los Angeles math teacher, who excelled in the preparation of Latina/o students for the advanced placement calculus exam, shone a positive light on the ignored efforts of Latina/o teachers and students. (Medina 3)