We love seeing Latinx icons being uplifted for their talent, accomplishments, and dedication to their community. Last week, the LA County Board of Supervisors declared October 13 as “Edward James Olmos Day” in order to honor the actor’s decades of work and success in film. Some of his most famous roles include patriarch Abraham Quintanilla in the 1997 film Selena and high school math teacher, Jaime Escalante in Stand and Deliver, for which he received a best actor Oscar nomination.The former is part of the National Film Registry while the latter was among 27 Latinx films nominated for inclusion by Congress this August. The motion to honor Olmos was written and put forward by Supervisor Hilda Solis as part of the county’s Latinx Heritage Month celebrations.
“Edward James Olmos has achieved extraordinary success as an actor, director, and producer,” said Solis in a statement. “He is a local legend whose talent has brought him attention worldwide but it is also his work as a devoted humanitarian that has captivated the hearts of many. It is my honor to move forward this proclamation during Hispanic Heritage Month so that Latinos everywhere can celebrate his contributions to our community.”
Born and raised in East L.A. by Mexican parents, Olmos earned a degree in sociology and criminal justice from East Los Angeles College before pursuing a career in acting. He first appeared in TV shows like Kojak, Police Woman, and Hawaii Five-O, earning a Tony nomination for his stage performance in Zoot Suit and an Emmy and Golden Globe awards for his role in Miami Vice. He was part of the reimagining of sci-fi series Battlestar Galactica as Commander William Adama from 2003–2009. He achieved massive success for his starring roles in Stand and Deliver and Selena and has starred in many others that center Latinx stories including My Family/Mi Familia, a multi-generational story about a Chicano family and the PBS drama American Family: Journey of Dreams as a widowed father of a Latinx family. Since 2018 he played the father of two members of an motorcycle club in the F/X series Mayans M.C, a spin-off of Sons of Anarchy. He remains the only Chicano ever nominated for the Best Actor Oscar.
Beyond his work in front of the camera, he also co-founded the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival and joined the picketing during the SAG/WGA strike in August. He’s no stranger to supporting a movement as he also participated in the Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta-led strike for farmworkers during the boycotts of the 1960s and ‘70s. Through his decades-long career, he’s made his support for his community both behind and in front of the camera known.
“When we made Stand and Deliver, I thought we were on our way to being able to break through and start creating more Latino-themed projects: comedies, dramas, horror films, documentaries, all kinds, everything. I thought that the door was open. But even after creating Lt. Castillo on “Miami Vice” in 1984, I still felt that I was the rarity,” previously said.