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Television

Coronavirus halted their student films. Latino stars stepping up to read their scripts

“Vida” star Mishel Prada, right, is among the TV stars stepping in to read film scripts from the students of the Latino Film Institute’s Youth Cinema Project.
“Vida’s” Mishel Prada, right, is among the TV stars stepping in to read film scripts from the students of the Latino Film Institute’s Youth Cinema Project.
(Erica Parise / Starz)

Latino stars of film and television are about to make some young screenwriters very, very proud.

Academy Award nominee Edward James Olmos announced Tuesday that the Latino Film Institute would stream live readings of scripts written by the institute’s Youth Cinema Project students, who were forced to cease their film productions because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The Hollywood twist? Cast members from shows like “Vida,” “Gentefied,” “One Day at a Time,” “Los Espookys,” “East Los High,” “Narcos: Mexico” and more will perform the live readings, set to take place at 1 p.m. Pacific time every Monday, Wednesday and Friday through May 15 on the project’s website.

“As schools across Los Angeles and the country continue to close for the remainder of the school year, many students are relying on virtual classrooms and distance learning during these difficult times. We felt it was our responsibility to do something to support those efforts,” said Olmos, founder of the Latino Film Institute and YCP, in a press release. “We thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to engage and excite the next generation by asking professional actors to join us in helping our students continue their education by reading the film scripts they have worked so hard on over the past year.”

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Stars will read about 15 scripts, each between three and five pages long, written by elementary, middle and high school students from across California, Olmos said in a phone interview.

The YCP is a film education program that aims to create a pipeline from California public schools to the entertainment industry. For the entire school year, participating fourth- to 12th-grade students get in-class, hands-on filmmaking experience, beginning with story development, production and post production. At the year’s end, elementary school student films have their world premiere at the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences’ Beverly Hills headquarters, and middle and high school students screen their projects at the Creative Artists Agency.

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The series begins Wednesday with “Gentefied” actors Joseph Julian Soria, Carlos Santos, Laura Patalano and Alex Patiño reading “The Lottery Ticket.” On Friday, “Vida” stars Mishel Prada, Chelsea Rendon, Roberta Colindrez, Luis Bordonada, Tonatiuh and Karen Sours will read “Kayla’s Got It Under Control.” Other participating stars will include Isabella Gomez from “One Day at a Time” and Efren Ramirez from “Napoleon Dynamite.”

“Instead of seeing them on the big screen like they do at the end of year, they’ll see actors bring them to life. It’s very productive and very beautiful,” Olmos said. “It really motivates and empowers students.”


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