Jesus Salvador Treviño: 1946—: Director, Producer, Writer Biography
Jesus Salvador Treviño has become one of the best-known chicano filmmakers in America. Known for his temerity, he has told stories that could be perceived as difficult or risky and has attacked issues that other filmmakers were either too timid or too bound by restrictions to attempt. Treviño has also directed episodes of several popular television series.
Born March 26, 1946, in El Paso, Texas to Jesus Victor and Evangelina Mercado Treviño, Treviño and his family moved to East Los Angeles when he was very young. East Los Angeles was at the time known for having the largest concentration of Latin Americans in the United States. It was this move to the newly awakening community—one beginning to fully understand and stand up for its individuality—that eventually led Treviño into filmmaking.
After Treviño graduated from high school, he was awarded a scholarship to attend Occidental College There he earned a bachelor's degree in philosophy in 1968. It wasn't until the summer after his undergraduate years, though, that Treviño was exposed to and learned the skills to become a filmmaker during a government program that he attended called New Communicators.
Treviño was then offered a job at KCET, a public television station in California. There he worked as a journalist and producer of features for the nightly Mexican American talk show Ahora! During this time he started exploring the world of communications and developed the skills he would use later on in his career. Although the show was cancelled the year after he started, Treviño was asked to continue on at the station as a producer—this time with more independence and autonomy—an opportunity that allowed Treviño to explore his Latino roots more thoroughly in his work. In the 1970s Treviño made three documentaries: Soledad, about prisoners at the Soledad jail, America Tropical, about artist David Siqueiros, and Yo Soy Chicano, a history of the Chicano people. In 1971 Treviño won a gold medal for Soledad at the Atlanta Film Festival.
In 1975 Treviño tried his hand at fictional films with Raices de Sangre (Roots of Blood), a dramatization of the Latino experience in America. Treviño was quoted in the Dictionary of Hispanic Biography as having said about the film, "How to relate several hundred years of history that is so filled with injustice, manifest destiny, and other forms of aggression against Latinos by the U.S. government, and how to allow people to feel it, and not make it boring. This is my task. I think this is where I get to explore how to be subtle and artful." He was confirmed in having done his job well, because in 1991 Raices de Sangre was named one of the top 25 Latin American Films of all time at the 36th Annual International Film Festival of Valladolid, Spain.
Treviño has often been heard lamenting about the lack of Latino representation in Hollywood. He served on the Director's Guild of America's Latino Committee and was quoted on their website as having said to prospective Latin-American actors and actresses, "If you're good, I'm going to see you're good and the producer is going to see you're good. It's not about we're going to hire him because he's a minority. We're going to hire him because he's talented. That's how we all got hired." He encouraged Latinos and Latinas to keep trying if they really wanted to get into the entertainment world, and his work has helped many to realize their dreams.
In recent years Treviño has directed a host of episodes for such popular television shows as Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, NYPD Blue, Chicago Hope, ER, Star Trek: Voyager, The Pretender, Dawson's Creek, Martial Law, and Resurrection Blvd., among others. He has brought the Chicano feel to television and has been nominated for several awards for his directorial work. Treviño has also made several television specials, including Chicano! The Mexican American Civil Rights Movement, a series that portrayed the little seen or known fight that Mexicans had in America for their own rights. Chicano! The Mexican American Civil Rights Movement was hailed by the Denver Post as a "unique insider's look at a vast social upheaval that many of us who were there believed would never be told … let's celebrate this series as a powerful reminder of what can be accomplished when good people take up the good fight." Treviño has also won coveted Director's Guild of America Awards twice for his television work, once for a daytime dramatic series, for Gangs, a CBS Schoolbreak Special, and once for a daytime drama, for P.O.W.E.R., The Eddie Matos Story.
In 1995 Treviño tried his hand at something away from film, writing The Fabulous Sinkhole and Other Stories. The book is a collection of short stories set in Arroyo Grande, Texas. According to Booklist, "each [story] is connected with the title story by a theme of accident versus coincidence." It is a book that "combines Hispanic folklore with magic realism in a witty, satirical, and often nostalgic saga of Latino culture in the contemporary United States," according to Melus. The title story is about a sinkhole that opens in Mrs. Romero's front yard. During the story things keep emerging out of the sinkhole that perfectly fit with whoever finds it. In the other stories the reader finds out about these objects, the people who found them, and how in different ways these things changed their lives dramatically. "The Fabulous Sinkhole and Other Stories should qualify Treviño for inclusion in the community of Chicano and Chicana fictionalists … who are gifted with insight and the artistic ability to portray sympathetically and credibly the Hispanic-American culture and community," Melus wrote about the book. A talented man with a gift for bringing the Latino culture into the eye of the public, it is certain that Treviño has not said his last piece yet, and his next work is sure to be well worth the wait.
Yo soy chicano, 1972.
Raices de sangre, 1975.
Gangs: A Brother's Life, CBS Schoolbreak Special, 1988.
Date Rape, ABC Afterschool Specials, 1988.
Darryl Tevis, Lifestories, NBC, 1991.
NYPD Blue, 1993.
SeaQuest DSV, 1993.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, two episodes, 1993.
ER, one episode, 1994.
Chicago Hope, 1994.
Babylon 5, five episodes, 1994.
Space: Above and Beyond, on episode, 1995.
Star Trek: Voyager, four episodes, 1995.
The Burning Zone, 1996.
The Pretender, 1996.
Nash Bridges, 1996.
Chicano! The Mexican American Civil Rights Movement, 1996.
The Practice, 1997.
Brimstone, two episodes, 1998.
Martial Law, 1998.
Babylon 5: Thirdspace, 1998.
Dawson's Creek, 1998.
Crusade, one episode, 1999.
Resurrection Blvd., 2000.
Contemporary Theatre, Film, and Television, Volume 14, Gale Research, 1995.
Dictionary of Hispanic Biography, Gale Research, 1996.
DISCovering Multicultural America, Gale Research, 1996.
Booklist, April 1, 1995, p. 1379.
The Denver Post, April 7, 1996, p. E01.
Los Angeles Times, May 3, 1999, p. 6.
Melus, Spring, 1998, p. 185.