Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Inspiring and Iconic Latinos- Actor, Danny De La Paz

Inspiring and Iconic Latinos-Part 2.
Actor, Danny De La Paz

If you are a Chicano film buff or even a cult classic film follower, then you may be familiar with the movie "Boulevard Nights" which just celebrated it's 33 year anniversary this year. The movie was the first of it's kind, touching on the raw, uncut and tragic barrio lifestyle set during the late 1970's.

My friend, actor Danny De La Paz brought to life the role of "Chuco"- the youngster trying to find himself while struggling with his life in the hood. Another great actor, Richard Yniguez played Danny's older brother "Raymond"- the older, more level headed Chicano who would do anything to help his brother despite all the odds. This story has touched the hearts of so many generations and has proved to be a classic among many other films set in the barrio.

When I decided to write this article about my friend Danny De La Paz, I wanted this to be different. I wanted to touch on Danny as a person, not just Danny as an actor. Yes, both coincide with one another since Danny has been an actor most of his life, but he is so much more than just a face on a screen.

Read any article about Danny and they will give you the run down on his life. You will see he grew up in a middle-class neighborhood in the heart of Whittier, California. Every article I read about him is the same, over and over. So I have decided that I am going to tell you who he is based on what I see, what I know and the interview I had with him personally.

Danny's Choice Of Roles

When I asked Danny what types of roles did he like playing best, or if there was a certain type of role he preferred he told me:

"I choose roles based on where I am at, at that point in my life. Every role I play, I use the character to say something. I want the viewers to pay attention and get the message of what I am trying to put through onto the screen."

Danny admits that his role in "Boulevard Nights" represented an important part of his life. He also pointed out that he has learned so much over the years through his various roles, helping make him the person he is today.

"I have to feel a certain way about a character, in order to leave an impression on the viewer. Roles are like fitting into a jacket. It doesn't matter the size of the jacket because you can have it tailored according to your specifications. In a role, you make the character your own, tailoring it until it becomes you, and you become it.

In the movie 'American Me' I played a role that made many connect to my character. In the scene where my character Puppet kills his younger brother Lil Puppet, I saw how many people turned their heads during that scene. That character I played was important for people to see, to remind them of who they are and say to themselves , "I don't ever want to be like that. "

Danny, The Fan

What many people do not realize is that Danny De La Paz is not only an actor and independent film screen writer but also an avid movie buff. He also realizes how his fan base feels when they seek him out for a photo or autograph, because he is more down to earth than you may think.

"I may be considered a celebrity or movie actor, but I am a big fan, too. I get excited to meet certain people just like anyone else. Sometimes I think to myself how important it would be to me to meet my favorite actors, so I can totally see how my fans feel when they want to meet me."

Among his favorite movies, "Sunset Boulevard" and "The Heiress." Danny is the type of person who thinks the epitome of a "perfect day" is staying home all day watching classic movies. He loves the art of movie making and documentaries as well. He also enjoys reading a good book, especially on rainy days.

His Outlook On The Hood

One thing that we talked about during our interview was how much love he is shown wherever he goes. He has made friends with people all over the world, and in almost every barrio you can think of. Although he is always greeted with and shown tremendous love the moment he steps into someone else's hood, it bothers him that others aren't seen with that same acceptance.

"If only they could treat others like the way they treat me, we would not continue to destroy each other."

He told me the conversations he has had with people about this and how passionate he is about this subject.

"Its not just Whites, Blacks, Chinese.....its Mexicans, too. Mexicans killing Mexicans just because of a different neighborhood, a different barrio....They are all brothers, their own gente, their own raza- and they still don't always see that."

I found that to be a strong and moving statement he made, being that he was telling the absolute truth as hard as it is for others to swallow. Danny doesn't 'beat around the bush', but always tells it like it is and I have to respect him for that. I will always remember what he told me that day, because if others would treat everyone the way they treat him, it would be a better place. It's all about love and respect.


Danny has been influenced by many actors he has been able to work with throughout his career, but holds a candle to his ultimate influence, James Dean. Danny was first drawn to Dean after watching "Rebel Without A Cause." Years, later he was able to work with an actor who knew Dean very well and he felt a strong connection to the actor, although he was never blessed with the chance of meeting Dean in his lifetime. Danny recalled a time when he was younger, back in the late 70's, when he was called to the Warner Bros. set for the filming of a movie he was to star in. He walked the back lot of Warner Bros. that day thinking "this is where my idol walked before me!" That day gave him so much enthusiasm and such pride to be an actor. It is easy to see how memorable of a moment that was for him at such an early start in his career.

Danny De La Paz is a very gracious and caring individual who takes an interest in the success of others, not just his own. In turn, it comes back to him in a positive way continually to this day. He has shown that although he has influenced others through his roles, he still chooses to be influenced by others by encouraging them to strive for their dreams.

"As I got older, I realized that whatever gifts you have given to people, the more enjoyment out of life you get. By helping others become successful, then I am successful at that."

His kind heart and generous spirit is one that is rarely found these days, if at all in the entertainment industry. I am blessed that he has been a huge influence and supporter, helping me in my writing career as well as helping so many others.

I want to wish Danny the best in his latest film project, "Kill Kapone" set to start shooting this Spring. So in ending, I want to give thanks to Danny De La Paz, the man, the actor, the friend.

J'aime Rubio (Copyright 2012)


  1. Excellent article as alwayz J'aime.....great job....loved it!

  2. Thanks G! Glad you stopped by to check it out.


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