Juan Escobedo is an award-winning actor, director, and social entrepreneur who hails from San Diego.  His pride in his roots, and his desire to give back to his community, have infused and informed his work since the beginning of his artistic career.

Escobedo’s starring role portraying a troubled veteran in the short film “Soy Soldado de Irak,” along with his direction of the same film, garnered the work numerous awards including the Swiss Cultural Programme’s Best Film Award at the Cannes Film Festival (2008), and the Cinema of Conscience Award from the Sonoma Film Festival (2008).  Shot on location in East Los Angeles, this film was most recently nominated for the prestigious Imagen Award (2009), which honors positive portrayals of Latinos in film and television.  Examples of Escobedo’s other recent directorial work include “Ruby,” a film for Current TV, and his signature film “Needle Juice”, recently funded to spin off two gangs from the film “Las Calacas and Los Mohawks” in 3D animation.

Juan Escobedo is a graduate of California State University Long Beach, where he majored in Theatre Arts and Directing for the Stage.  After graduation, he had the opportunity to perform onstage in theatrical works such as “Don Juan Tenorio, the Trickster of Seville,” “The Dream of Kitamura” – recognized by the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts – and “Águila Real” opposite renowned Mexican actress Angélica Aragón.  Escobedo has appeared on the soap opera “The Bold and the Beautiful,” and has most recently starred in “Beyond the Ropes,” a film in which he shares scenes with acclaimed actor José Yenque, best known for his work in the Academy Award winning film “Traffic.”

Escobedo and Yenque teamed up in 2004, along with Mónica Lerma, to found The East Los Angeles Society of Film and Arts (TELA SOFA), a non-profit organization dedicated to “Provoking Thought and Inspiring Solutions.”   Youth who are at risk for substance abuse, HIV/AIDS, early pregnancy and gang involvement, have opportunities to redirect their energies and channel them into positive directions through film and art, thanks to the outreach, mentoring, and instruction provided by TELA SOFA.  An offshoot of these efforts has been the successful launch of the East L.A. International and Youth Film Festival in 2009, something which TELA SOFA now envisions as an annual event.  This festival provides a supportive venue to showcase the work of young filmmakers, and to honor their accomplishments.  In addition to the film festival, Escobedo and Yenque’s “Teatro Callejero” (Street Theatre) uses theatre as an entertaining and effective outreach vehicle to introduce day laborers to serious health issues such as HIV/AIDS and STDs.

Escobedo currently has numerous projects at various stages of development, including “El Niño Perdido,” (Lost Child), “Murderer’s Row,” and “Rostros Oscuros” (Dark Faces).  He continues to divide his time between acting and directing – focusing especially on films dealing with issues impacting his community – along with his impassioned educational/humanitarian work through TELA SOFA.

Shoot Film not Guns.  Shoot Film not Drugs.”

Official Website: www.juanescobedo.com