Evelina Fernández is a playwright and actress from Los Angeles.
Fernández is a second generation Mexican-American and a prominent figure in the Latino/a theater and film community. Fernández's grandparents immigrated to the United States in 1910 from Jalisco, Mexico, to escape civil war. Fernández was born in 1954 Los Angeles but lived the first 9 years of her life in Arizona before moving back to LA to live with her grandparents after her parents got divorced. Fernández had an interest in writing her whole life but first got involved in drama in the Garfield High School Drama Club. She then attended California State University Los Angeles, where she continued to pursue theater and became involved in the Chicano Movement. Evelina was a founding member of the Latino Theatre Company (LTC) in 1985. She has remained involved for 30 years, writing several and performing in a dozen plays for the LTC. Fernandez is married to the Artistic Director and one of the founders of the Latino Theater Company, Jose Luis Valenzuela. Jose has directed many of the plays that Evelina has written and starred in. The LTC currently has a 20 year lease with the City of Los Angeles to operate in the Los Angeles Theater Center (LATC). Valenzuela and Fernández have two children and live in Los Angeles.
Her first prominent role as an actress came in Luis Valdez's Zootsuit in 1978. The play was the first play with a Chicano to be shown on Broadway however, Fernández was pregnant with her first child, Fidel, and could not perform in the Broadway production. After Zootsuit, Fernández performed for El Teatro de Esperanza, performing at both the New York Shakespeare Festival and Denver Center for the Performing Arts. Fernández then performed as Julie in American Me, a film about Chicano gang life and the prison system in the United States. She has since appeared as an actress in 28 movies, shows and film shorts.
A theme of her work is to fight the common representation of Latino/a characters as victims. Her frustration with the portrayal of Latino/a characters prompted her to write Luminarias, released in May 2000. Luminarias is a commentary about race, sex and love from the perspective of single, chicana women. In addition to writing Luminarias, Fernández also produced and starred in the film as the actress of one of the protagonists, Andrea. Luminarias was a groundbreaking film because it was written, funded, acted and directed by the Latino community.
Fernández wrote a loosely autobiographical trilogy called A Mexican Trilogy, which were put on at the LATC by the LTC. The Trilogy is made up of Faith, Hope and Charity . The titles were intended to be the names of the protagonists but in the end, were the themes of each of the play. The trilogy highlights the immigrant experience. According to Fernández, one of the aims of the play is to highlight immigrant's contributions to American History.
Fernández has received several awards for her work. In 1998, she won the American Latino Media Arts Award for her work in the movie Hollywood Confidential. In 2007 she was nominated for the Humanitas Prize for her work on an episode of the T.V. series Maya and Miguel. In 2000, the year that Luminarias was released, Fernández won the Nosotros Golden Eagle Awards for Outstanding Writer. Two of her works, Solitude and Dementia have made the Los Angeles Times Critic's Choice list.
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