Local Hero: Jesús Salvador Treviño

Jesús Salvador Treviño

"I grew up hating myself as a Mexican because of negative portrayals I saw on TV and in films. I have devoted my life to opening up opportunities for Latinos in media so we can create positive, realistic portrayals of who we are."

For more than 40 years, Jesús Salvador Treviño's influential work as an activist, director, producer and writer continues to demystify Latino culture, history and issues to audiences worldwide. Mr. Treviño serves as a symbol of courage and a noteworthy reminder of the significance of heritage.

Mr. Treviño has documented pivotal moments in Mexican American history and is a living testament to the legendary events of the Chicano Civil Rights Movement. In 1968, Mr. Treviño participated and recorded a six day sit-in at Los Angeles Unified School District's boardroom to protest the ouster of Mexican American high school teacher Sal Castro and investigated the substandard education of Mexican American students.

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The following year, Mr. Treviño documented the First National Youth Conference sponsored by the Crusade for Justice in Denver, Colorado. More than 1500 Mexican American youth throughout the United States attended. He witnessed the drafting of the Plan de Aztlán, which defined Chicano nationalism as the driving philosophy of the emerging Chicano Civil Rights Movement.

Events such as these merged Mr. Treviño's two true passions - his culture and filmmaking. Unbeknownst to him at the time, these two passions would later contribute to a successful filmmaking career and would open more opportunities for Latinos.

Today, Treviño's directorial credits include, "Law & Order Criminal Intent," "The Unit," "Criminal Minds," "Prison Break," "Bones," "ER," "Third Watch," "NYPD Blue," "Crossing Jordan," "The Practice" and "The O.C.," to name a few. Mr. Treviño serves as president of Barrio Dog Productions. He also spearheads the Latino arts, history and culture Web site, Latinopia.com.

Mr. Treviño continues to incorporate his passion of chicanismo with his filmmaking. He directed the 2010 documentary, "Visions of Aztlán," which showcases Mexican American artists inspired by the Chicano Civil Rights Movement. In 2003, Mr. Treviño directed and co-produced, "In Search of Aztlán," a docu-comedy that follows the comedy troupe Culture Clash throughout the Southwestern United States as they search for the ancient homeland. On the hit Showtime series, "Resurrection Blvd," Mr. Treviño directed the pilot in 1999 and co-executive produced the critically acclaimed production from 2000 to 2002 that delves into the lives of the Santiago family from East Los Angeles. In 1995, Mr. Treviño co-produced the four-part documentary series, "Chicano! History of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement."

Mr. Treviño's filmmaking is relevant to the issues facing Latinos at the time. He directed the 1988 special, "Gangs," which addressed the gang problems in Latino barrios, and wrote and directed the 1976 Mexican feature film, "Raices de Sangre," which features the creation of an international union of garment workers in a Texas border town. In 1972, Mr. Treviño wrote and produced, "Yo Soy Chicano," the first nationally broadcast documentary about Mexican Americans. From 1969 to 1970, Mr. Treviño wrote, co-hosted and served as the associate producer of the KCET production, "AHORA!," a nightly public affairs magazine that focused on Mexican American issues.

As a writer, some of Mr. Treviño's most notable work includes the collection of short stories, "The Fabulous Sinkhole and Other Stories" and "The Skyscraper That Flew," and his memoir, "Eyewitness - A Filmmaker's Memoir of the Chicano Movement."

Mr. Treviño has been recognized for his outstanding efforts. He is the recipient of the prestigious Directors Guild Award and two Alma Awards for Outstanding Director of a Prime Time Television Drama and as co-executive producer of "Resurrection Blvd."

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