‘It Is Important We Build Bridges and Not Walls’: Edward James Olmos on Strengthening Latinx Culture in Film

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Edward James Olmos is a legendary Mexican-American actor, director, producer, and activist who has been in film and television roles for over 40 years. He’s best known for his roles in Battlestar Galactica, Selena, and Stand and Deliver.

Olmos co-founded the Los Angeles International Film Festival (LALIFF) in 1997 with the mission of strengthening and celebrating Latinx lives through film. Throughout his career, Olmos has been an advocate for Latinx representation in the entertainment industry.

During his address at the LALIFF, Olmos talked about why it is more important than ever to remain dedicated to strengthening Latinx culture in the arts.

Actor Edward James Olmos, LALIFF Co-Founder, Dilcia Barrera, LALIFF Director of programming and Rafael Agustin, LALIFF Executive director (Photo by JC Olivera/Getty Images)

Do not be afraid for we are bilingual but we are also bicultural.

In this current climate that we find ourselves have been extraordinarily difficult for everyone, but for some reason we have been pinpointed out. And the latino community has been hit so hard and has been hit so hard for the last two years.

The only thing I can tell you is, they should have never done that to us.

We started this in 1997 of the strong understanding of the needs and its grown to an extraordinary experience and the reason it’s grown to an extraordinary experience is because of all of you.

Over 1,400 students were bound this year and were given the full-time they were in school to learn how to make film and learn to tell their stories.

There is no greater revolutionary act that the proud exhibition of our stories makes at all possible to understand. By us having this voice in the strongest medium and art in the world, which is cinema, music and whole understanding of who we are as a culture. We are telling our own stories and bridging the gap between our communities and the nation at large.

It is important we build bridges and not walls.

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