featured CAST

Danny TrejoDanny TrejO (narrator)

Danny Trejo has developed a prolific career in the movie business, yet his road to success has been hard earned and anything but typical. From imprisonment to helping young people battle drug addiction, acting to producing, the name, face, and achievements of Danny Trejo are well recognized in Hollywood.

Trejo grew up on the streets of Los Angeles. Despite spending the latter part of his youth and early adulthood incarcerated, he rose to great accomplishment. Upon his release from Soledad Prison, he became involved in programs aimed at helping those who, like him, battle drug and alcohol addictions.

Years later, Danny went to the set of RUNAWAY TRAIN to offer support to a man he’d been counseling. He was immediately offered a role as a convict. Danny has since gone on to star in dozens of films including: DESPERADO, the FROM DUSK ‘TIL DAWN film series, HEAT (Robert De Niro, Al Pacino), CON AIR (Nicolas Cage), ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO (Johnny Depp), and the series of SPY KIDS movies. Trejo can also be seen in the independent films SHERRY BABY (Maggie Gyllenhaal), A VERY HAROLD & KUMAR: CHRISTMAS IN 3D (John Cho, Kal Penn, Neil Patrick Harris), and Rob Zombie films THE DEVIL’S REJECTS and HALLOWEEN. He was seen in Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino’s GRIND HOUSE which led to a spin-off movie from the original trailers called MACHETE, in which Danny plays the anti-hero of the story, an ex-federale with a gift for wielding a blade who hides out as a day-laborer and is double-crossed by a corrupt state senator.

Danny reprised his role in MACHETE KILLS, the second in the Machete trilogy that will be released in September 2013 with Mel Gibson, Charlie Sheen, and Amber Heard. In addition, he has finished shooting DEAD IN TOMBSTONE alongside Anthony Michael Hall and Mickey Rourke with Universal Pictures which is scheduled to be released in the Fall of 2013. Danny plays Guerrero Hernandez, who, faced with death after being double-crossed by his half-brother, makes a deal with the devil to come back from the dead to seek his revenge. A number of Danny’s films were recently released on DVD, including BAD ASS, in which he stars as a Vietnam War veteran who sets out to find the murderer of his best friend. DEATH RACE: INFERNO; the third installment in the Death Race where Danny reprises Goldberg from DEATH RACE 2. Most recently, Trejo starred in BULLET with Jonathan Banks, the story of a cop who takes the law into his own hands when his grandson is kidnapped. He recently wrapped Disney’s MUPPETS…AGAIN with Tina Fey and Ray Liotta set to be released in 2014. In addition, Danny reprised his role of Frank Vega in the recently wrapped film BAD ASS 2, in which he stars alongside Danny Glover.

As well as acting, Danny works as a producer and formed his production company “Starburst” where his first endeavors into producing were the award winning short AN EYE FOR TALENT followed by THE ANIMAL FACTORY, directed by Steve Buscemi. Danny went on to create “Trejo 4.0 Productions” which produced the film “High Hopes,” and was acquired by Maple Pictures/Lionsgate Canada.

Despite his impressive list of credits, it’s his continual role as a devoted father of three and as an intervention counselor that bring him the most satisfaction., born William Adams, is a multi-faceted entertainer and creative innovator, a seven-time Grammy Award winner, and founder of I AM ™. Known for his work with The Black Eyed Peas, who have sold 31 million albums and 58 million singles worldwide, he also works with some of the industry’s biggest names including Michael Jackson, Rihanna, Usher, Nicki Minaj, Britney Spears, David Guetta, and film composer Hans Zimmer.

In addition to his music career, is very active in front of, and behind the camera. His educational TV special “ Reach For The Stars”, a behind-the-scene look at the artistic and scientific elements involved in sending a song to Mars aired on Discovery’s SCIENCE Channel in August, 2012. In 2011, executive produced and starred in his first prime time TV special “ FIRST: Science is Rock and Roll” to get young people excited about math and science education, as well as technology and science-related careers. In front of the camera, returned in 2013 for a second season as a Coach on reality TV hit show “The Voice” UK on BBC One. Entrepreneurship

As a musician, producer, director and advocate for education, he is an enthusiastic user of technologies in both his professional and personal lives. In recognition of his ability to harness technology to enhance entertainment, creativity and communication, Intel Corporation appointed will as Director of Creative Innovation in 2011.

With a commitment to inspire kids to stay in school and go to college to become the leaders of tomorrow, advocates regarding the importance and power of a good education through his angel foundation. The scholarship provides future leaders and innovators with comprehensive financial assistance to complete post-secondary education. The Foundation has also created (science, technology, engineering, arts and math), an elementary and middle school initiative to provide underserved students with learning and interaction opportunities beyond the classroom in collaboration with Discovery Education. In addition, the angel foundation is also active in the U.K. through a STEM education and computer skills joint initiative with The Prince’s Trust. As part of’s philanthropic commitment, he hosts his annual TRANS4M Conference and Benefit Concert during Grammy Week. “TRANS4M 2013: TRANS4Ming America” Conference featured keynote speaker President Bill Clinton and the evening concert was headlined by Alicia Keys and who were joined on stage by featured performers, Taboo, Coco Lee, Estelle and Bobby Brown.

Father Greg BoyleFather Greg Boyle

The Rev. Gregory J. Boyle, S.J., is the founder and executive director of Homeboy Industries.

A native of Los Angeles, Father Boyle entered the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) in 1972 and was ordained a Catholic priest in 1984. He holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and English from Gonzaga University, a master’s degree in English from Loyola Marymount University, a Master of Divinity degree from the Weston School of Theology, and a Master of Sacred Theology degree from the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley.

From 1986 to 1992, Father Boyle was pastor of Dolores Mission Church in Los Angeles, at the time the poorest Catholic parish in the city, located near two large public housing projects and the territories of numerous gangs.

By 1988, in an effort to address the escalating problems and unmet needs of gang-involved youth, Father Boyle and parish and community members began to develop positive opportunities for them, including establishing an alternative school and day care program, and seeking out legitimate employment, calling this initial effort Jobs for a Future.  “Gang violence is about a lethal absence of hope,” Father Boyle has said.  “Nobody has ever met a hopeful kid who joined a gang.”

In the wake of the 1992 Los Angeles riots, Jobs for a Future and Proyecto Pastoral, a community-organizing project begun at the parish, launched their first social enterprise business, Homeboy Bakery. In the ensuing years, the success of the bakery created the groundwork for additional social enterprise businesses, leading Jobs for a Future in 2001 to become an independent nonprofit organization, Homeboy Industries. Today, Homeboy Industries employs and trains former gang members in a range of social enterprises, as well as provides critical services to over 10,000 men and women who walk through its doors every year seeking a better life.

Father Boyle is the author of the 2010 New York Times-bestseller, Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion, which was named one of the Best Books of 2010 by Publishers Weekly and received the PEN Center USA 2011 Creative Nonfiction Award. Father Boyle is the subject of Academy Award winner Freida Lee Mock’s 2012 documentary, G-Dog. He has received the California Peace Prize and been inducted into the California Hall of Fame. In 2014, the White House named him a Champion of Change. He was named 2016 Humanitarian of the Year award by the James Beard Foundation, the national culinary-arts organization.

Josefina LopezJosefina López

Josefina López is best known for authoring the play and co-authoring the film Real Women Have Curves, a coming-of-age story about Ana, a first-generation Chicana torn between pursuing her college ambitions and securing employment which is a family expectation.  Along the way, Ana confronts a host of cultural assumptions about beauty, marriage and a woman’s role in society.  Although Real Women Have Curves is Lopez’ most recognized work, it is only one of many literary and artistic works she has created since her artistic career began at 17.  Born in San Luis Potosi, Mexico in 1969, Josefina Lopez was five years old when she and her family immigrated to the United States and settled in the East Los Angeles neighborhood of Boyle Heights.  Josefina was undocumented for thirteen years before she received Amnesty in 1987 and eventually became a U.S. Citizen in 1995.

Josefina has been an activist and has been doing public speaking for over 20 years and has lectured on various topics including Chicano Theater, Women’s History Issues, Minority representation in Cinema at over 200 universities such as Yale, Dartmouth, and USC.  She has been the subject of countless TV & Radio interviews in which she has passionately discussed immigration issues and other controversial subjects concerning women and minorities.

Josefina is the recipient of a number of other awards and accolades, including a formal recognition from U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer’s 7th Annual “Women Making History” banquet in 1998; and a screenwriting fellowship from the California Arts Council in 2001.  She and Real Women Have Curves co-author George LaVoo won the Humanitas Prize for Screenwriting in 2002, The Gabriel Garcia Marquez Award from L.A. Mayor in 2003, and the Artist-in-Residency grant from the NEA/TCG for 2007.

Even though she is best known for the success of Real Women Have Curves, Josefina has had more than 80 productions of her plays throughout the United States.  In addition, Josefina also paints, writes poetry, performs, designs, and is a mother of two boys and resides in Silver Lake. She is the Founding Artistic Director of CASA 0101 Theater in Boyle Heights. At CASA 0101 her commitment is to teach screenwriting and playwriting and nurtures a new generation of women and Latino artists.

Josefina is presently developing the musical version of Real Women Have Curves for Broadway.  Her first novel titled Hungry Woman in Paris is available on Amazon as well as her two play anthologies. She wrote a play to protest SB1070 titled Detained in the Desert, which she turned into a feature film and which won her many awards.  She is working on numerous plays, screenplays, and TV projects. For more information please go to &

Congresswoman Lucille Robyal-AllardCongresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard

In 1992, Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard became the first Mexican-American woman elected to Congress. As a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives, the Congresswoman has worked tirelessly to create jobs, improve health services, and create stronger, better educational opportunities for her constituents in California’s 40th Congressional District. She also ranks as one of the House’s foremost supporters of immigration reform, a strong homeland security system, labor unions, veterans, and the rights of women and children.

Congresswoman Roybal-Allard is the first Latina to serve on the House Appropriations Committee, and the first Latina to serve as a chair or ranking member on a House Appropriations Subcommittee. As the ranking Democrat on the House Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, the Congresswoman fights to ensure our homeland security personnel have the resources they need to keep our country safe, and she advocates for bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform that treats immigrants humanely, focuses on deporting those who threaten national security, and better secures our borders.

From her position on the House Appropriations Committee, the Congresswoman has secured millions of dollars to create jobs on much-needed local construction and transportation projects, and at organizations throughout her district. She has been at the forefront of the fight to improve the quality and affordability of health services, and has led legislative efforts to protect the health of mothers and babies. She has successfully secured funding for local health needs, including infant and child care, prenatal health, dental care, HIV testing, substance abuse, diabetes treatment, and telehealth services. She has been equally successful in obtaining federal dollars for local education and labor projects, including job training and placement services, arts and vocational education, afterschool care, early education, magnet schools, and English literacy programs.

Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard is the eldest daughter of the late Congressman Edward R. Roybal and Lucille Beserra Roybal. She is married to Edward T. Allard III. Together, she and her husband have four children and nine grandchildren. She received her bachelor’s degree from California State University, Los Angeles. She also holds an honorary doctor of humane letters degree from National Hispanic University.

Momo YashimaMomo Yashima

Momo was born in New York City and lived there until she was five. Her family moved to Los Angeles, where they lived in East Los Angeles. She attended Garfield High School and Roosevelt High School. Her parents, artists Mitsu and Taro Yashima wrote award winning children’s books (3 time winner of Caldecott Honors) and her brother was the award winning actor, Mako.

After attending Cal State University at Los Angeles and dancing for the dance department at the University of Southern California, Momo returned to New York to study acting at the Neighborhood Playhouse, under the care of Sanford Meisner. She toured the South doing dinner theater, but decided to return to Los Angeles. She worked with the Music Center’s Improvisational Theater Project with Gordon Davidson and East West Players- doing over 25 shows.

Although Momo works from time to time in Hollywood, the work with the Resisters of Conscience (Men who fought the Government’s internment of the Japanese Americans on the West Coast during WWII and questioned the legality of drafting the internees), entitled A DIVIDED COMMUNITY: 3 STORIES OF RESISTANCE is an ongoing project that brings her satisfaction and joy. This documentary won the 2012 BEST CONCEPT AWARD.

Momo is married and has 2 daughters who attended Dartmouth and Yale playing softball. She is most always unemployed, so it’s a good thing she’s a great cook! Even in her advanced old age, she religiously goes to her Jazz Dance classes, taught by the Luigi disciple, Hama.

Xavi above InterchangeXavi Moreno

Xavi Moreno Is talent through a kaleidoscope—actor, writer, poet, spoken word artist, dancer, graphic designer, producer, director, historian, and educator. A proud Angelino, born, raised, and staged east of the LA River, in the historic barrio of Boyle Heights.

Xavi’s upbringing in Boyle Heights is greatly influential in every bit of his artistry as a writer, actor, as a human being. The vibrant colors, people, and culture of this special neighborhood in Los Angeles are the source of inspiration for his artistic work. Amongst the vibrant colors, Xavi grew up hearing and witnessing gun-shots, sirens, helicopter propellers, screams, cries, and deaths. Losing one of his best friends to gang-violence impacted and transformed his life in a major way. After the death of his loved friend, at nineteen years young, Xavi came across a treasure in Boyle Heights, a small community theater named CASA 0101. That summer of 2003, Xavi joined their ten-week creative writing and theater summer workshop for youth. At the end of the course the youth produced a show entitled “Voces Voices”, portraying their own life stories. The outcome was so life changing for him and all the youth who participated that they decided to start their own theater company titled Teatro East of the River (TEOTR) and continue writing and producing stories that represented their lives, their families, and communities to impact social change. Xavi would later claim that theater saved his life and dedicates every show to the friends he lost to gang violence.

After co-founding TEOTR, Xavi’s career on stage picked up rapidly. Taking everything he had learned from his parents, his streets, his drama teacher at Roosevelt High School, and even his first poetry instructor in elementary (Ms. Rose), Xavi has gone on to act in a variety of shows with multiple theater companies in Los Angeles including Ensemble Studio Theater LA, The Latino Theater Company, Cornerstone Theater, Moveable Piece, Frida Kahlo Theater, tounge in chic*ana, Company of Angels, Independent Shakespeare Company, Watts Village Theater Company, Casa 0101 Theater, About Productions, Celebration Theater. Among his greatest performances include the lead role in the Los Angeles premiere of Ricardo Bracho’s SISSY in 2007. His portrayal of Lead Chorus in Cornerstone Theater’s FOR ALL TIME…; and in 2010 his incredible portrayal of Judas in the annual production of FRIDA, a move that would open his career to Spanish speaking audiences and influence his spanish creative writing for the work that would follow with Ford, Jarritos, Dr.Pepper and Vans. In 2012 his role’s as Flute/Thisbie in the A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM for the historic, audience record-breaking 2012 Griffith Park Shakespeare Festival with the Independent Shakespeare Company. Most recently Xavi was seen on stage as “adoring schoolmate Charlie” -Backstage” in FAITH: Part I of a Mexican Trilogy and Melancholia produced by the Latino Theater Company at the Los Angeles Theater Center. In 2014 Xavi was  be cast in the 2014/15 Spring & Fall National Tour of “PLACAS – The Most Dangerous Tattoo” starting Ric Salinas of Culture Clash.

In 2006 Xavi co-founded Los Poets del Norte an essential spoken word duo born out of the seabed of rebellion of Boyle Heights – rhythmically vocalizing the untold urban corridos for the understanding of the Xican@ reality. Grounded in his roots and community, Xavi teaches spoken word, theater, and creative writing through TEOTR, Los Poets del Norte, the Unusual Suspects Theater Company, Company of Angels, Independent Shakespeare Co., About Productions and College Track to youth in his community and the greater LA. He is passionate about working with inner city youth who like himself fell hostage to the juvenile system, education system, and are finding a means to express themselves and survive through the arts.

Xavi es una flor chillante that rose through cracked concrete into the spot light. This self-proclaimed Fresh Prince de Boyle Heights continues to be an inspiration to his community and youth at large. He is testimony to the positive power that the word and stage can unearth in youth who have been pushed out from schools, into gangs, inside jails and out to tell his story under the spot light and beyond its boundaries.

featured academics

George Sanchezgeorge j. sanchez

George J. Sanchez is a professor of American Studies & Ethnicity and History at the University of Southern California, where he also serves as Vice Dean for Diversity and Stategic Initiatives. He is the author of Becoming Mexican American: Ethnicity, Culture, and Identity in Chicano Los Angeles, 1900–1945 (Oxford). His article “ ‘What’s Good for Boyle Heights is Good for the Jews’: Creating Multiracialism on the Eastside During the 1950s” won the 2005 Constance Rourke Prize for best article appearing in American Quarterly. He is also series co-editor of American Crossroads: New Works in Ethnic Studies from University of California Press, which has published twenty-five works in that field over the past decade, many that have won major scholarly awards in a variety of disciplines. His academic work focuses on both historical and contemporary topics of race, gender, ethnicity, labor, and immigration, and his is currently working on a historical study of the ethnic interaction of Mexican Americans, Japanese Americans, African Americans, and Jews in the Boyle Heights area of East Los Angeles, California in the twentieth century. He currently serves as Director of the Center for Diversity and Democracy at USC, which focuses on issues of racial and ethnic diversity in higher education and issues of civic engagement.

He is the former director of American studies and ethnicity, a program he helped build into one of the top American and ethnic studies departments in the nation. Sanchez helped bring to USC a $3.6 million James Irvine Foundation grant supporting underrepresented doctoral students when he was director of the Irvine Fellowship Program. A renowned mentor, he has served on the advisory board for both the USC Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program and the McNair Scholars Program. He has placed thirteen former Ph.D. students in tenure-track positions throughout the United States. A former president of the American Studies Association, he now chairs its Committee on Graduate Education. Sanchez also serves on minority scholars committees of the Organization of American Historians and the American Historical Association. Sanchez received his bachelor’s from Harvard in 1981 and his Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1989. Before USC he taught at UCLA and the University of Michigan.

Jack TchenJACK Tchen

Jack (John Kuo Wei) Tchen is a facilitator, teacher, historian, curator, re-organizer, and dumpster diver. He works on understanding the multiple presents, pasts, the futures of New York City, identity formations, trans-local cross-cultural communications, archives and epistemologies, and progressive pedagogy. He also works on decolonizing Eurocentric ideas, theories, and practices and making our cultural organizations and institutions more representative and democratic. Professor Tchen is the founding director of the Asian/Pacific/American (A/P/A) Studies Program and Institute at New York University and part of the original founding faculty of the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis, NYU. He co-founded the Museum of Chinese in America in 1979-80 where he continues to serve as senior historian. He is author of the award-winning books New York before Chinatown: Orientalism and the Shaping of American Culture, 1776-1882 (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001) and Genthe’s Photographs of San Francisco’s Old Chinatown, 1895-1905 (Dover Publications, 1984). He is the co-author, along with Dylan Yeats, of Yellow Peril! An Archive of Anti-Asian Fear, which was published by Verso in 2014. Professor Tchen was awarded the Charles S. Frankel Prize from the National Endowment for the Humanities and, in 2012, received the NYU MLK Jr Humanitarian Award. He is co-principle investigator of “Asian Americas and Pacific Islanders Facts, Not Fiction: Setting the Record Straight” produced with The College Board. He has been building research collections of Asians in the Americas. In doing so, he has critically examined practices of collections and archives to make sense of how we come to know what we know, and don’t know.. He is currently co-chairing the effort at the Smithsonian Institution to form an Asian Pacific American Center. Professor Tchen is now working on a book about New York City that focuses on the unrecognized tradition of the intermingling of people, creativity, and improvisation of everyday residents. He regularly collaborates with filmmakers and media producers, artists and collectors, and, through the A/P/A Institute, sponsors and produces hundreds of programs and performances. Most recently, he co-curated the Museum of Chinese in America’s core exhibition: “With a single step: stories in the making of America” in a space designed by Maya Lin.

Richard Wrightrichard A. wright

Richard A. Wright is a Professor of Geography and the Orvil Dryfoos Professor of Public Affairs at Dartmouth College. He is interested in how immigrants fit into US society. His long-term collaborator, Mark Ellis (University of Washington), and he address this question in several ways. They study the labor market interactions of immigrants and migrants in and between the major metropolitan areas and regions of the United States. This research features the deeply segmented nature of these labor markets and the limited interaction between the foreign born and the native born. Richard also studies housing markets—again from the perspective of race and racism. New projects also revisit a long-term interest in skilled migration.

Marisela Chavezmarisela r. chávez

Marisela R. Chávez is an Associate Professor and Chair of Chicana/Chicano Studies at California State University Dominguez Hills. She teaches and researches Chicana/o history, politics, and identity; women of color feminisms; U.S. social movements; oral history; and Latino/a immigration. She has published several articles, including “Pilgrimage to the Homeland: California Chicanas and International Women’s Year, Mexico City, 1975” in Memories and Migrations: Mapping Boricua and Chicana Histories (University of Illinois Press, 2008) and “We have a long, beautiful history”: Chicana Feminist Trajectories and Legacies” in No Permanent Waves: Recasting U.S. Feminist History (Rutgers University Press, 2010). Presently, she is revising a manuscript that traces Chicana and Mexican American women’s activism in Los Angeles from the late 1960s to 1980.

Chávez received her Ph.D. in History from Stanford University, specializing in United States, Women’s and Chicana/o History. At CSUDH, Chávez serves on the General Education Committee, the Writing Competency Committee, and the faculty advisory board for the Women’s Studies Program. She is also a National Advisory Board Member for Chicana Por Mi Raza: Uncovering the Hidden History of Chicana Feminism (1965-1985), an NEH Digital Humanities Project, and serves on the preliminary selection committee for the Woodrow Wilson Dissertation Fellowship in Women’s Studies.

Laura Pulidolaura pulido

Laura Pulido is a Professor of Ethnic Studies and Geography at the University of Oregon. She researches race, environmental justice, Chicana/o Studies, critical human geography, and Los Angeles. She studies how various groups experience racial and class oppression, how these experiences differ among particular communities of color, and how they mobilize to create a more socially-just world. Asking such questions, Professor Pulido has done extensive work in the field of environmental justice, social movements, labor studies, and radical tourism. Currently, she is working on several projects. First, she is exploring what it means for Los Angeles to be built over the communities and cultures of previous residents – both indigenous and Mexican. In particular, she is examining the landscape as a way of connecting the city to its history of racial violence. Second, she is researching environmental racism and the failure of the state to protect communities of color from severe pollution. Using a political ecology approach, she is investigating exactly how and where the state fails in this neoliberal moment and what alternatives might be available to activists. Lastly, she has begun a new project that examines the degree to which the U.S. nation relies on Mexico as its Other to enhance its sense of superiority.

Gilbert Estradagilbert estrada

Gilbert Estrada is a native of Southern California and earned his Ph.D. in history from the University of Southern California.  An urban historian, Dr. Estrada has spent fifteen years researching the evolution of Los Angeles’ transportation system and its impact on communities, has published over a hundred articles on multiple platforms, and gives frequent talks to academic and civic audiences.  In 2011, he completed his dissertation ‘An Evil System?’ Planning for Environmental Health in America’s Mobile and Most Polluted Metropolis, 1959 to the Present.  Intensely multi-media in his approach, Dr. Estrada has taught multiple courses in Chicano/Latino History, U.S. History, Latin American History, Urban Studies, American Studies, Environmental Studies, and Los Angeles History.  He has taught at U.C. Irvine, Loyola Marymount University, and USC.  Dr. Estrada is currently an Assistant Professor of History at Long Beach City College.