Edward James Olmos

Actor, Director

1947-02-24 (74 years old) Los Angeles, California, United States

A magnetic Latino actor and activist, Edward James Olmos was raised in East Los Angeles and avoided falling in with gangs by pursuing his passions: baseball (he was a Golden State batting champion) and rock and roll. In the mid-'60s he gigged with bands at night and studied at community college by day. By the '70s, he had added acting to his eclectic résumé. Olmos' breakthrough role came in 1978 as the mythical narrator of the historical play Zoot Suit, which earned him a Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award, as well as a Tony nod when the show moved to Broadway. (He reprised the role in the subsequent 1981 film.) After a handful of projects, Olmos came to prominence and won an Emmy and a Golden Globe as Lt. Martin Castillo on the immensely popular TV series Miami Vice. Once the show folded in 1990, Olmos jumped to features. And although he turned in many memorable performances---his Oscar-nominated portrayal of real-life inspirational teacher Jaime Escalante in Stand and Deliver, a gang member in the prison drama American Me, which he also directed and produced---the small screen remained Olmos' medium. He did fine work in a slew of TV-movies and miniseries, including the lauded 2003 remake of Battlestar Galactica as a hardened military leader trying to lead the remnants of the human race to safety. When Battlestar became a regular series in 2004, Olmos found himself essaying his hippest, most high-profile part since Miami Vice in Commander William Adama, a role he played until the series' conclusion in 2009. Off screen, Olmos devotes much of his time to humanitarian causes and works with inner-city kids to help them stay out of gangs through education and community involvement.

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