Los Angeles native Edward James Olmos has spent the last forty years making waves as a highly successful Mexican-American actor and director. As a teenager, Olmos gravitated towards music and didn’t make the transition from rock and roll to acting until his mid-twenties.
Olmos has always been a strong advocate for Latino visibility, often using his public image to call attention to inequality and civil rights issues. In some ways, the award-winning performer’s prolific Hollywood career grew directly out of his Latino identity – Olmos’ big break came in the late 1970s when he was cast as the central narrator in the first Broadway production of “Zoot Suit.” The vibrant Chicano musical was later made into a well-received film with Olmos remaining on as narrator, a role that led to a plethora subsequent film and television appearances.
Olmos’ first major entry into television was as Lieutenant Martin Castillo in the hit drama “Miami Vice.” Olmos starred in the action-packed series from 1984 through 1989, establishing himself as a serious actor and taking home both a Golden Globe and an Emmy Award for his compelling performance. After the series wrapped, Olmos continued to challenge unjust misconceptions of Latino-Americans, taking on prominent roles in “Selena,” “In the Time of the Butterflies” and becoming the first Hispanic American to be nominated for an Oscar for his work on the dramatic film, “Stand and Deliver.” Edward James Olmos was most recently known for his portrayal of Commander William Adama on the Sci-Fi Channel’s cult favorite, “Battlestar Gallactica.”
Battlestar Galactica & A More Equal Future
A longtime proponent of advocacy-minded media, Latino-American actor Edward James Olmos viewed his performance as Commander William “Bill” Adama on the award-winning “Battlestar Galactica” as having the greatest impact in changing racial views. The show, which premiered in 2005 and spanned four highly rated seasons on the Sci-Fi Channel, was set in the distant future and featured a cast that defied the boundaries of race.
As commander, Edward James Olmos was literally at the helm of “Battlestar Galactica,” a remarkable role for a Latino actor, even in the 21st century. In terms of ethnic diversity, the vision presented by “Battlestar Galactica mirrored the racial harmony first imagined by “Star Trek” some forty years prior.
“Battlestar Galactica is the best use of television I’ve ever been a part of. Ever,” Olmos explained his enthusiasm for the show’s unbridled commitment to diversity. “There is only one race and that’s what the show is really about – the human race.”