Clip | Raúl Juliá: The World’s a Stage - Director’s Statement

As a Puerto Rican filmmaker with a lifelong passion for theater and for my culture, I was always drawn to Raúl Juliá’s story and his unlikely rise to success on both stage and screen. For Latinos, Juliá broke many barriers as a so-called “outsider” in the acting world, which is especially relevant today and a main theme the film explores. At a time when there were few Latinos (and even fewer Puerto Ricans) appearing on stage and in films, he exploded onto the scene and carved a place for himself on the virtue of his natural talent and versatility, even in the face of racism and stereotyping.

I was also inspired by Juliá’s legacy as a humanitarian, which has continued to reverberate after his death. From his fierce belief in ending world hunger, to his vocal stance on environmental issues, to his thoughts on the need for unity in the face of prejudice and the search for the American dream regardless of background, Juliá used his celebrity power to give voice to the voiceless. And in many ways, his positions on pro-social and cultural causes were eerily prophetic to the current state of our country.

My previous experience directing and producing the PBS documentary films John Leguizamo’s Road to Broadway for Great Performances and John Leguizamo: Tales From a Ghetto Klown motivated my own mission of telling the stories of inspiring Latinos whose stories are often overlooked.

As a director and producer who has spent over 15 years serving this audience, I feel a profound calling to continue highlighting the important contributions that Latinx people have made and are making to society. Raúl Juliá is a shining example, and it’s time for his story to be told.

Transcript Print

- It's been 25 years since Raul passed away.

(bright guitar music) And in those 25 years, there hasn't been anybody who told the story in the way that we wanted to tell it, myself and my team.

I felt like his legacy wasn't represented to the level that he deserved.

So it certainly was a passion project, and I feel like now is definitely the perfect time.

His mission in life, in terms of opening doors for underrepresented people in theater and mostly in television and film, is more relevant than ever.

The content that is really out there is really what ends up creating the perception of a community whether it's real or imagined.

It really does have a big impact on how people in other communities look at their neighbors, look at their friends, their coworkers, and for so many years, our stories have been pigeonholed to one small piece of who we are, and maybe some of the stereotypes have been perpetuated.

So I think that if we can help change the narrative and the perception of what Latinos represent, and the impact and the contributions that we've had on American culture, American society, and the world.

I think it will create more harmony, more unity, more of what's really the reality of who we are as a people.

And when you start looking at some of the themes of the movie in terms of the activism that Raul was a part of, fighting even climate change and doing all these things that were not really typical of Hollywood celebrities at the time.

You can draw a really direct line to what he was doing then, and how it matters more than ever now.