Edward James Olmos was born in 1947 in Los Angeles. Olmos was the son of a Mexican immigrant father and a Mexican-American mother. As a teenager, Olmos was focused on his career as a musician, singing in a rock band called Pacific Ocean and playing in clubs around the Los Angeles area. The band even released a record in 1968.
It wasn’t until the late ’60s and early ’70s that Olmos started gravitating toward acting. At first, Olmos wasn’t acting in films but rather made his career as a stage actor, playing parts in small productions. Then in 1979, he made his big break by appearing as the narrator in the first Chicano play on Broadway, “Zoot Suit”, written and directed by Luis Valdez. From this role, Olmos earned a Tony award nomination and later he went on to play the same role in the film version of the show.
In the 1980s, Olmos starred in the TV series “Miami Vice” as Lieutenant Martin Castillo. For his portrayal of this character he was awarded a Golden Globe and an Emmy in the year 1985. In 1989 he returned to film, coming back and starring in “Stand and Deliver.” “Stand and Deliver” is based on the story of East LA math teacher Jaime Escalante whom Olmos portrayed. Thanks to this role, Olmos was the first American-born Latino to receive an Academy Award Nomination for the category of Best Actor.
In 1992 Olmos was able to add the title of Director to his list of credentials with the making of “American Me”, a film which he also starred in that depicted Chicano gang life in LA. Also in 1995 he starred in “My Family/Mi Familia” alongside other Latino actors including Esai Morales and Jennifer Lopez. Other movies that Olmos has played part in include “In the Time of the Butterflies”, “Walkout”, “Caught”, “Blade Runner”, “Wolfen” and “Selena”, along with roles in televisions shows such as “Battlestar Galactica” and “CSI: NY.” Olmos has contributed much of his time to the Latino community, giving them a chance to have their voices heard. In 1997 he co-founded the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival and the organization Latino Literacy Now. In 1998 he founded Latino Public Broadcasting, a station that funds public television programming focusing on issues that affect Latinos. Olmos makes around 150 visits annually to places such as delinquent centers and juvenile halls to get out the message that everyone has the opportunity to make their own life choices. Olmos continues to impact the Latino community at large, and it’s safe to say he’s one of the most influential Latinos in the industry.
Most recently, Olmos played a role in “The Green Hornet” and he now has a reoccurring role on the hit TV show “Dexter.”