The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Latin filmmaker shares his wisdom with SE students

By Courtney Horton/reporter

As part of Hispanic Heritage Month, a SE guest speaker discussed a documentary called Latin Music USA and urged students to follow their dreams.

John Valadez, who has produced, directed and written films, talked about his craft.

“Latin music has an American music genre,” he said.

Valadez, who has produced and written for PBS and CNN, took the audience through the times of Latinos fighting to make a name for themselves from Ritchie Valens to Selena and Ricky Martin.

PBS approached Valadez about making this Mexican-American music documentary.

“I don’t know anything about this music,” he said. “They thought because of my last name I knew everything about it. I’m Mexican-American.”

Valdez said he learned quite a bit from making this film — not just about the music but also the history of the Mexican-American genre and more about himself.

Valadez, whose family is from El Paso, attended the University of Washington but dropped out two years later. He was bored, and nothing was interesting to him anymore. He didn’t feel he was going for something he loved.

“You are in school because it is magical, “ he said. “You find what knocks you out.”

Film and producing inevitably became Valdez’s passion, but he needed to find a way to pursue it.

“Society told me I needed to go to college, which was the problem,” he said. “My parents wanted me to go to the University of Washington, which was the problem.”

People should do something they love not because someone wants them to, Valdez said.

“Because you take that class and all of a sudden something clicks and it is exciting, you will gravitate toward those things that you find exciting,” he said. “And you will do well.”

Doing what one wants and not following what other people want is the key, Valadez said.

“That is what I think education is really about,” he said.

Mastering something and being good at it feeds the imagination. Everybody is different.

“Some people get turned on by art, math, science or architecture,” he said. “I found what I was good at while attending NYU. The degree is not what matters. It is the symbol of finding out what turns you on, which is becoming enlightened.”

What most often happens is people go for that piece of paper because that is what they are told to do, Valadez said.

“In my mind, that is the recipe for the walking dead, by doing what other people tell you to do,” he said. “You be used by you, not by it. Don’t let the symbol control who you are.”

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