March 5, 2013

Edward James Olmos

Hey Team, (this post should have been posted back in September 2012, but here we are)

So Tuesday was a pretty remarkable day. We brought Mr. Edward James Olmos to the University to speak. I was lucky enough to spend almost the whole day with him. He requested Japanese for lunch, so we stopped down at Happy Sumo for some delicious food. (I opted for chicken, but I did try the California roll- Amazing!)

(For those of you who don't know who this is, Olmos has starred in numerous movies, including Stand and Deliver, Miami Vice, the remake of the cult classic Battlestar Galactica, and numerous other projects. He also is a civil rights activist, and is involved with many great organizations, including UNICEF).

Nick (my then Speakers Manager) and I were pretty nervous to meet and speak with him, we were both pretty star struck. But he wanted to answer our questions, and hear about our lives. It was just beyond anything I could have hoped for. He even said "Please call me Ed." (How could this day get any better?) He encouraged me to continue telling stories through film, become as educated as possible, and to become good at everything you possibly can, thus being able to do what you like best in the end.

So once we were over our initial anxiety, conversation then came pretty easily. It was filled with some of his beliefs, including that there is no such thing as race. Society just created it to justify killing, judging, differentiating, and holding ourselves above others in order to accomplish our goals of colonization and the like. He believes there is only one race, the human race. So he encouraged in his speech later that night to never use the word again. I've really become aware of it, and I try not to use the phrase at all.

Later that night, Ed did a fantastic job speaking to an audience of over 500 people. He spoke for two hours, and answered every question people had. He even stayed an additional hour and a half to sign autographs and take picture with each, and every person. It was amazing how generous he was with his time.

Afterwards we took him to Bayleaf, and I experienced my first stuffed french toast, and even had a bite of chicken and waffles. (Oh, Bayleaf, why did you move to SugarHouse?) Ed even favored us with an amazing story of his activism.

According to the internets, "In 2001, he was arrested and spent 20 days in jail for taking part in the Navy-Vieques protests against United States Navy target practice bombings of the island of Vieques, Puerto Rico."

What the internet doesn't tell you is how he got to the island. He was riding to the islands, but the boats were stopped by U.S. officials. They were running out of gas quickly, and the officials couldn't find out Olmos, Bobby Kennedy Junior, (who I totally met at Sundance!), and another activist were heading there. But a smart little boy was quietly stealing gas from the U.S. boats, and pouring them into the Olmos boat. Once they got there, the three separated, and had to hide. Olmos fell asleep hiding, and wasn't found for about 12 hours. As the blip says, he spent 20 days in jail, but he was more scared about what his mother would think, than what the U.S. would. He later testified against how the U.S. didn't clean up after using the islands for bomb practice.

So that's how you become a legend team. You break rules. You take names, and you kick ass.

It was such a wonderful day with the Admiral. A day I will never forget.

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