Edward James Olmos as Felipe Reyes

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Edward James Olmos as Felipe Reyes

Edward James Olmos

Meet Edward James Olmos

First of all, Edward James Olmos was born February 24, 1947 in Los Angeles, California. He is 5’ 8 1/2” tall and his family is of Mexican descent. If Olmos had followed the first love of his life, he probably would have been a professional baseball player.

Eddie the rock star

However, by age 13 another love entered his life: rock music. As a result, by age 15 he was already an experienced rock singer. Hence, Olmos formed and reformed several “garage bands” along the way. Furthermore, during the late 1960s and early 1970s, he played some of the most famous clubs on Sunset Strip, including Gazzarri’s and The Factory. A friend suggested that with Edward’s flair for the dramatic, he consider a career in acting. Therefore, throughout the 1970s, he divided his time between rock music gigs, acting classes, bit parts in television, Off-off-off Broadway plays and his business of moving fine furniture. Due to his long acting and musical resume, he had a slight appearance in the video of the American rock band Toto, “I Will Remember” (1995) and in Snoop Dogg‘s music video “Vato“.

Edward James Olmos singing in his rock band, Pacific Ocean.

Awards and Accolades

  • 1995, Emmy — Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Special: Nominee.
  • 1986, Emmy — Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series: Nominee.
  • 1989, Golden Globe — Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama: Nominee.
  • 1986, Golden Globe — Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television: Winner.
  • 1988, Oscar — Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role: Nominee.
  • 1989, Golden Globe — Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television: Nominee.
  • 1989, Independent Spirit Awards — Best Male Lead: Winner.
  • 1985, Emmy — Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series: Winner.
  • 1995, Golden Globe — Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television: Winner.
  • 1979, Tony — Actor (Featured Role–Play): Nominee.
  • 2011, Screen Actors Guild Awards — Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series: Nominee.

Early Roles

Perhaps best known for his role as Lt. Martin Castillo in the NBC television series Miami Vice (1984) (1984-1989). Olmos has been seen in numerous film and television productions. As a result, he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for his starring role in Stand and Deliver (1988).

Biggest Roles

From 1984 to 1989, he starred in his biggest role up to that date as the taciturn police Lieutenant Martin Castillo in the television series Miami Vice, opposite Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas, and, as a result, he was awarded a Golden Globe and an Emmy in 1985. He was contacted about playing the captain of the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-D) on Star Trek: The Next Generation when it was in pre-production in 1986, but declined.

Film

Consequently, returning to film, Olmos became the first American-born Hispanic to receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor in Stand and Deliver, for his portrayal of real-life math teacher, Jaime Escalante. He starred in My Family/Mi Familia, a multi-generational story of a Chicano family. In 1997, he starred alongside Jennifer Lopez in the film Selena.

Additional TV Roles

In 2001 he had a recurring role as U.S. Supreme Court Justice Roberto Mendoza in the NBC drama The West Wing. From 2002 to 2004, he starred as a recently widowed father of a Hispanic L.A. family in the PBS drama American Family: Journey of Dreams.  From 2003 to 2009, he starred as Commander William Adama in the Sci-Fi Channel‘s reimagined Battlestar Galactica miniseries, and in the television series that followed.

More Recent TV Roles

In the series finale of the ABC sitcom George Lopez, titled “George Decides to Sta-Local Where It’s Familia”; he guest-starred as the plant’s new multi-millionaire owner. Olmos joined the cast of the television series Dexter for its sixth season, as a “brilliant, charismatic professor of religious studies”. Olmos starred in the second season of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as Robert Gonzales, the leader of a rival faction of S.H.I.E.L.D., for five episodes. In contrast, he is now taking on the role of Felipe Reyes in Kurt Sutter and Elgin James Sons of Anarchy spin-off called Mayans MC.

Directing

Furthermore, American Me (1992) was his directorial debut. Most noteworthy, in 2006, he co-produced, directed, and played the bit part of Julian Nava in the HBO movie about the 1968 Chicano Blowouts, Walkout.  Also, he directed four episodes of the show, “Tigh Me Up, Tigh Me Down” (1.9), “Taking a Break from All Your Worries” (3.13), “Escape Velocity” (4.4), and “Islanded in a Stream of Stars” (4.18). He also directed a television movie based upon the show, The Plan.

Interesting Facts

In 1996, he was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from California State University, Fresno. Another interesting fact is, in 2007, after a seven-year process, he obtained Mexican nationality. Asteroid 5608 Olmos is named in his honor.

Other Projects

Olmos also starred in a short training video for the United States Postal Service entitled Was it Worth It?, a video about theft in the workplace. More recently, he has been a spokesperson for Farmers Insurance Group, starring in their Spanish language commercials.

Activism

However, acting, directing and screenwriting are only parts of what he does. Olmos would much rather be known as an activist than an actor. He devotes much of his time to causes focusing on the needs and rights of children. He makes an average of 150 personal appearances a year to places where he can reach kids at risk; juvenile halls, detention centers, boys/girls clubs, and schools. Olmos speaks almost anywhere he can get across his message that “we all have a choice” about where life takes us. Therefore, Olmos stresses the importance of education and the risks of gang life. Hence, Olmos tries to promote the notion of taking responsibility for one’s own actions and one’s own happiness in life. Using his own “disadvantaged background” as an example (he grew up in East Los Angeles, infamous for its gang problems), he tells the kids, “If I can do it, so can you”. And he tries to point them in a positive direction.

Charitable interests

Most notably, he has served as an ambassador for UNICEF and has received numerous accolades for his activism. Besides that, he works with organizations such as Thank You Ocean, Project Hope Foundation, Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, The Boys & Girls Club of America, The River Keepers, Dr. Andros’ Diabetic Foot Global Conference.

Felipe Reyes

Edward James Olmos as Felipe Reyes

Meet Felipe Reyes

Edward James Olmos stars as “Felipe Reyes.”  Furthermore, Felipe Reyes is the widowed owner of a carniceria and the father to Ezekiel, the “Prospect” and Angel, the “fully patched in” Mayans MC member. Seems like, maybe, the once strong Mexican patriarch has been crushed by bullets and hard labor.  Consequently, he struggles to keep his past buried and lead his sons down a lawful and righteous path. Olmos is, unsurprisingly, the steadiest of everyone on the show. This fact is certainly, because he talks in a way that feels real, moves in a way that feels real, sits quietly in a way that feels real, etc.

Finally, there is not a lot of information available yet on Felipe. Certainly, you should stay tuned as we learn more about the character. I will see you back here next week! – Cheryl