- Birth name:
- Luis Miguel Valdez
- Date of Birth:
- 26 June 1940 Delano, California, USA
Acknowledged as the founder of modern Chicano theatre and film, Luis Valdez was born to migrant farm workers Francisco and Armida Valdez and spent his early life traveling with the family, working in the fields himself. He eventually found himself at San Jose State College, where his play "The Shrunken Head of Pancho Villa" was staged in 1964. He later joined the United Farm Workers and staged improvisational theatre with the help of union actors to further their causes. This work lead to the formation of his El Teatro Campesino, which produced most of Valdez' early plays in both the US and Europe. His account of racism in 1940s Los Angeles, Zoot Suit (1981), was released in 1982 to less than critical acclaim. Valdez continued to write and direct throughout the period; his film La Bamba (1987), the tragic story of Chicano singer Ritchie Valens, proved wildly successful and launched the screen careers of Lou Diamond Phillips and Esai Morales. He continues to travel extensively while remaining true to his Chicano theatrical roots.