Former Elan shares success in theater

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By Marlene Grajeda

East Los Angeles College alumni Marcelo Olivas shares his success with the theatre department that first got him to the path towards his career as a professional actor.

Olivas grew up in El Sereno with his grandparent for the first five years of his life. At his mother’s return he moved in with her to live out the rest of his adolescence.

It was during the summer of 1999 at Cathedral High School entering his senior year where the stage first sparked an interest in Olivas.

“I used to participate in skits for the homecoming rallies and was approached by the theatre arts professor to be in the school musical On the Town and I fell in love with the stage, but thought it was more like a hobby than a profession” Olivas said.

Olivas is a dyslectic and because of this he describes himself as being a below average student and didn’t even considering attending college.

He registered at ELAC in 2000 and it was in 2001 that Olivas got involved with the theatre department.

“I owe everything to this department.

“They help me change how I saw myself, my surrounding, my culture, my world and what it could be” Olivas said.

It was at ELAC where Olivas acting career first flourished and his genuine attitude about the arts was noticed.

“Marcelo has that wonderful attribute that I believe all really good actors must have: he takes criticism enthusiastically. He wants to improve and so he doesn’t take criticism personally, he thrives on it” Kelley Hogan, ELAC theatre department’s director and Intro to Theatre Acting professor said.

It was by working together at ELAC that Hogan has since then become a mentor and personal friend to Olivas

In 2006 Olivas left ELAC with an AA in Liberal Arts and transferred to Cal State Northridge and stayed there a year

If was a rough time in Olivas life at this point he struggled with continuing his education, following his passion for acting, carrying two part-time jobs and becoming a father.

“I know that I wasn’t happy with where I was at in my life, and knew that I needed to go back to school not just for myself, but for the better of my family.” Olivas said.

It was in 2009 he returned to school and started training at Cal State LA he gained a Bachelors in Theatre Arts in 2012.

Olivas constantly returns to ELAC’s theatre department as a guest fight choreographer, acting couch and helps students and directors in any way he can. He has attributed his success to the experience he had here at ELAC that reflects on the whole department.

For example his participation at Theatricum Botanicum, a classical theatre company in Woodland Hills, had continued to work with ELAC theatre students after seeing firsthand the skills ELAC student gain.

Olivas now at 32 is a professional actor in theatre and television. He scored a national commercial for Toyota that airs on all Spanish Networks and in August you will see him playing a character named Spyder in a new Black Jesus series on Adult Swim. He also has videos on YouTube of works he has done.


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