the father of Chicano theater, Luis Valdez uses drama to tell
the stories of America's roots. He explores the human spirit
in the face of social injustice through award-winning stage,
film, and television productions.
Chávez became my role model. To this day, he remains
the strongest influence in my life.”
son of migrant farm workers, Valdez joined Chavez' grape boycott
and strike in 1965, creating El Teatro Campesino, a traveling
theater troupe that entertained and educated striking workers,
while drawing public attention to their struggle.
don't do theater for commercial reasons, but for reasons of
the heart and the spirit. So our community is essentially a
breath of life. We have a saying at work, ‘Community is the
creator of the theater, and the theater is the creator of community.'''
Valdez, playwright, director, producer. Photograph
by Héctor Méndez-Caratini, taken at Tufts University,
1978, Valdez wrote, directed, and produced Zoot Suit,
based on the 1943 Zoot Suit Riots in Los Angeles.
The first play by a Chicano to be performed on Broadway, Zoot
Suit catapulted him into film directing. Valdez achieved
breakthrough success with La Bamba, later bringing
his pioneering vision to Hollywood with La Pastorela and The
thing I realized as I became older is the great sacrifice
all immigrants face coming to the United States. I have
to admire the contributions my grandparents and parents made
to our being here.”