Born to parents of Mexican descent, Luis Valdez spent his childhood as a migrant farm worker. After graduating from San Jose State College he spent a year with the San Francisco Mime Troupe which culm...
Does the world really need rival films chronicling the life, agony and artistry of legendary Mexican painter Frida Kahlo?
Jennifer Lopez clearly does not think so. The actress-turned-singer-turned-fashion-statement has decided against portraying Kahlo in a Francis Ford Coppola-produced biography, opting instead to negotiate a $10 million paycheck for the crime drama, Taking Lives, according to Variety.
Lopez's decision means she will not square off against Selma Hayek, who will portray Kahlo in another version of the artist's life-this one from director Julie Taymor. Alfred Molina, Edward Norton, Ashley Judd and Geoffrey Rush will costar in Taymor's production, which Miramax recently greenlit.
If Lopez signs on for Taking Lives, she will play an FBI profiler assigned to track down a serial killer known for assuming his victims' identities. Production is scheduled to start in the fall or following the threatened actors' strike, once it is averted or settled. Jon Bokenkamp adapted the screenplay from a novel by Michael Pye.
The future of Coppola's Kahlo biography, a United Artists' production that has Luis Valdez attached to direct, remains unclear. Lopez was in discussions to star in the film but had not signed a deal, according to a Coppola spokeswoman, who did not know the film's status.
A United Artists spokesman did not return calls for comment.
Kahlo overcame polio and a serious car crash to become one of Mexico's most famous artists. She married Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, but boasted of many affairs with both men and women, including Communist leader Leon Trotsky. In 1953, she fell into a deep depression and became suicidal after she had her right leg amputated below the knee due to a gangrene infection. She died in 1954 of unknown causes.
This past year, Lopez has established her box-office appeal while enjoying front-page status because of her relationship with onetime beau, rap mogul Sean "Puffy" Combs, and the flesh-baring gowns she wears to award ceremonies. Combs--who was recently acquitted on gun and bribery charges--announced in February that he and Lopez had ended their two-year relationship.
Despite drawing lackluster reviews, The Cell and The Wedding Planner each earned approximately $60 million at the U.S. box office. Lopez made history in January when The Wedding Planner opened at No. 1 during the same week that her second album, J.Lo, landed in the top spot on the Billboard charts. Her next film, Angel Eyes, will open May 18. She plays a Chicago police officer who must deal with past secrets when she falls in love.
First play produced, "The Shrunken Head of Pancho Villa"
Wrote first screenplay and made film acting debut, "Which Way Is Up?"
Film directing debut, "Zoot Suit" (also writer)
Broadway directing and writing debut, "Zoot Suit" (transferred from Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, 1978)
Off-Broadway directing and writing debut, "La Carpa de los Rasquachis"
TV directing debut, "Corridos! Tales of Passion and Revolution" (also actor and writer)
Founded El Teatro Campesino (also artistic director and actor); toured US and Europe with company
Born to parents of Mexican descent, Luis Valdez spent his childhood as a migrant farm worker. After graduating from San Jose State College he spent a year with the San Francisco Mime Troupe which culminated in a cultural exchange trip to Cuba. Upon his return to the US, Valdez returned to his hometown of Delano and joined Cesar Chavez's United Farmworkers. There he formed a workers' theatre company, "El Teatro Campesino," which developed original material in the form of short agitprop skits called "actos." "El Teatro Campesino" also produced several short films of their plays.<p>After several years with "Teatro Campesino," Valdez decided to expand into more conventional theatrical venues. He wrote and directed the musical drama "Zoot Suit," which opened in August 1978 in Los Angeles and was an immediate hit. On a budget of $2.5 million, Valdez filmed the play. Released in 1981, "Zoot Suit" is based loosely on the infamous Sleepy Lagoon case in 1942 Los Angeles. Daniel Valdez (Luis' brother and the talented composer of the film's musical numbers) plays the leader of a gang of 'pachucos' (streetwise Chicano kids wearing zoot suits) named Henry Reyna, who is arrested and convicted by a racist court for a murder he did not commit.<p>Valdez' second feature, "La Bamba" (1987), was tremendously successful in both mainstream and Hispanic markets. To chronicle the life of the first Mexican-American rock star, Ritchie Valens (ne Valenzuela), Valdez used the classical Hollywood narrative style, and some reviewers criticized him for becoming too conventional. Valdez responded that his style was appropriate for communicating the theme of acculturation to a national audience.<p>Valdez wrote and directed for TV an adaptation of his play, "Corridos! Tales of Passion and Revolution" (1987), a series of vignettes based on Mexican-American folk ballads. Using both English and Spanish dialogue, "Corridos" raises the consciousness of Chicano and non-Chicano viewers who usually have little contact with Mexican-American history.
married on August 23, 1969
San Jose State University
Founding member of the California Arts Council.
Writer, Actor and Director of the United Farmworkers Organizing Committee.
Valdez is a board of directors member to the Theatre Communications Group.
He is a lecturer in Chicano history and theatre, University of California in Santa Cruz.
He is also a lecturer in theatre arts at the University of California in Berkeley.
Valdez has received the Rockefeller Foundation Grant (1977)
He was awarded a honorary Doctorate of Arts from Columbia College in Chicago.