Edward James Olmos


Maybe you know him best from Battlestar Galactica, but Edward James Olmos has done so much more. For nearly 50 years, Edward James Olmos has acted and delivered amazing performances in legendary films and TV shows, as well as produced and directed. His career is impressively diverse and always surprising. 

Now in his 70s, Edward James Olmos continues to be as busy as ever. Let’s take a look at what he’s done and what he’s up to now. So say us all.

EDWARD JAMES OLMOS IS AN ACTIVIST

Edward James Olmos

Edward James Olmos has been extremely active over the last few decades through his activism on many different fronts. He helped clean up Los Angeles after the Rodney King riots in 1992. In the ’90s, he co-founded the non-profit organization, Latino Literacy Now and the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival.

In an attempt to push back against Hispanic stereotypes, he founded Latino Public Broadcasting, which works to fund public television programming on Latino issues. He also often visits teenagers at detention centers and juvenile halls and has been an ambassador for UNICEF.

Edward James Olmos was arrested in 2001 and spent 20 days in jail after attending the Navy-Vieques protests, which fought back against the United States Navy bombing the Puerto Rican island of Vieques. He has also worked closely with the SENS Research Foundation to help fight against diseases that can be caused by aging.

Edward James Olmos had been particularly vocal when it came to awards season in the past. After Latinos were shut out of the nominees for the 72nd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, he stated, “There’s diversity, but as far as giving them credit and giving them a sense of balance, there’s none. I mean, indigenous people, Asian people, the Latino people are nowhere to be found and they haven’t been for a long time.”

Edward James Olmos in particular pointed out the Emmy’s snubbing of Rita Moreno for One Day at a Time and for overlooking Gina Rodriguez’s work on Jane the Virgin. Olmos has also said the outrage over the murder of George Floyd should motivate positive change in the Hollywood system.

EDWARD JAMES OLMOS WAS BORN IN CALIFORNIA AND STARTED ACTING IN THE 1960s

Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, Edward James Olmos was the son of a Mexican immigrant and spent most of his childhood raised by great-grandparents after his parents split up. As a kid, he wanted to be a baseball player, but his ambitions eventually led him to sing in a rock and roll band named Pacific Ocean.  

Olmos then transitioned into acting, working in the theater through the 1960s and 1970s. His television career started with guest parts in iconic TV shows like Kojak, Starsky and Hutch, CHiPs, Hill Street Blues, and Hawaii Five-O.

EDWARD JAMES OLMOS BREAKS THROUGH WITH MIAMI VICE AND BLADE RUNNER

Blade Runner
Edward James Olmos in Blade Runner

In the 1980s, Edward’s career truly took off. In 1982, Edward James Olmos played Gaff in the sci-fi classic Blade Runner and he starred in The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez, playing the title role which he had also played on stage.

Edward James Olmos
Olmos on Miami Vice

His big breakthrough came in 1984, when he starred as Lieutenant Martin Castillo on Miami Vice, which would run until 1989. For his role as Castillo, Edward James Olmos won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series and a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film.

HE EARNED AN OSCAR NOMINATION FOR STAND AND DELIVER

Edward James Olmos

In 1988, he received a Best Actor Oscar nomination for his starring role in Stand and Deliver. Edward James Olmos was the first American-born Hispanic to be nominated in the Best Actor category. He lost to Gene Hackman, with the latter winning for Mississippi Burning.

In Stand and Deliver, Olmos played Jaime Escalante, a math teacher in California who works with students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds. It was a moving film, in part based on the true story of Escalante’s life and time in the public school system.

The 1990s were a relatively quiet period for the actor. His biggest role from this period was in 1997’s Selena, where he played Selena’s father, Abraham Quintanilla. During this period, he appeared in TV shows as varied as The Magic School Bus, Touched by an Angel, and The West Wing.

EDWARD JAMES OLMOS IS ADMIRAL WILLIAM ADAMA ON BATTLESTAR GALACTICA

Edward James Olmos as Adama

It was in the 2000s that Edward James Olmos’ career had a resurgence, as he played Admiral William Adama in the reboot of Battlestar Galactica. His role commanding the Galactica ran from 2004 to 2009 and through it, he achieved sci-fi icon status.

The show has become one of the most celebrated series ever, routinely making top lists for its merging of sci-fi and deeper societal issues into one fantastic story.

Edward James Olmos in Battlestar Galactica
Adama on Battlestar Galactica

Though the series wrapped up its run in 2007, the Battlestar Galactica story got a prequel in 2010 with Caprica. Though Edward James Olmos did not return for that show, the series (in its short run) did focus on a younger version of Adama and how he was shaped at an early age by his own family.

The final scenes for Edward James Olmos on Battlestar Galactica are among the most emotional produced on television with the prophecy around his character coming to fruition but the crew eventually finding what they had been looking for.

EDWARD JAMES OLMOS HAS CONTINUED TO ACT IN NUMEROUS ROLES

Edward James Olmos
Edward James Olmos on Dexter

The last decade has been particularly packed for the one-time BSG star. He would play Professor James Gellar in the sixth season of Dexter and Robert Gonzales in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Edward James Olmos would reprise his role of Gaff in 2017’s Blade Runner 2049.

He also has always had a gift for voice acting, ever since he provided the English voice of Mito for Nasuicaä of the Valley of the Wind. In recent years, he’s voiced characters in Beverly Hills Chihuahua, The Simpsons and in Pixar’s 2017 film, Coco.

More recently, he has had a role on the Sons of Anarchy spin-off Mayans M.C. He plays one of the father figures in the series, similar to the original show, and has received critical acclaim for the part. The series is coming to an end this year.

EDWARD JAMES OLMOS HAS DIRECTED NUMEROUS FEATURES AND SERIES EPISODES

Despite how much work he’s had in front of the camera, Edward James Olmos has also been prolific behind the scenes.

His first work as a director came in an episode of Miami Vice back in 1985. Since then, he acted and starred in 1992’s American Me, 2002’s Jack and Marilyn, and the TV movie Walkout from 2006.

Battlestar Galactica

Edward James Olmos also directed four great episodes of Battlestar Galactica: “Tigh Me Up, Tigh Me Down,” “Taking a Break from All Your Worries,” “Escape Velocity” and “Island in a Stream of Stars.” In addition to this, Edward James Olmos directed Battlestar Galactica: The Plan.

HE WAS HONORED FOR HISPANIC HERITAGE

Mayans
Olmos on Mayans M.C.

In 2020, The Paley Center for Media announced its first Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration. The event was part of Paley’s commitment to promoting diverse voices in media and entertainment. They recently aired “A Tribute to Hispanic Achievements in Television,” which honored groundbreaking entertainment luminaries in the Hispanic community. Gloria Estefan, Eva Longoria, Jimmy Smits, and Soledad O’Brien were also honored.

It’s a well-deserved honor for one of the greatest living actors.

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