By Brenda De La Cruz
Born and raised in Southern California, ELAC alumnus Derrick Oliver, otherwise known as ILYFR, is making moves in the entertainment industry.
The former Husky was born in West Covina and raised in Baldwin Park where he played football and baseball in both cities as a kid.
Oliver said his parents wanted to keep him and his siblings out of trouble and kept them busy with a variety of sports.
He said his mother is Mexican and Indigenous Yaqui and his father is African American.
Oliver said his step-grandfather influenced his decision to attend ELAC.
His step-grandfather was a Vietnam war veteran and very involved in the community, including during the 1960s Civil Rights era.
Naturally, when Oliver’s brother Aaron began attending ELAC in 2006 after joining the baseball team, he tagged along.
Oliver said when he enrolled at ELAC, he studied theater and was involved in approximately 10 shows from 2007-2010.
He studied and acted under ELAC professor and director Kelly Hogan. He also represented ELAC at the Irene Ryan competition under ELAC Professor Rodney Lloyd Scott, which provides recognition, honor and financial assistance to outstanding student performers wishing to pursue further education in the field.
He said he grew up being cautious. Oliver said many kids in his neighborhood joined gangs, and many would grow up thinking it’s embarrassing to be afraid, but Oliver says it’s embarrassing to give in to others.
He said it takes more courage to walk away from the pressure of joining a gang.
However, despite growing up with both Black and brown cultures, Oliver was never fully accepted as all the way Black or all the way Latino.
He said he was looked at as Latino in Baldwin Park, but when he attended South Hills High School in West Covina, he was looked at as a Black man.
“I woke up to the elote man. Every single aspect of their lives is my life,” said Oliver about his Latino side.
“Being able to embrace that Black is Chicano, too. Black is Latino. If you really hate me for looking the way I do, all right. But, realize we are all connected,” Oliver said.
The musician, artist and director said he plans to get into film and change the narrative to help empower Black and Brown youth.
He has previously directed other artists’ music videos. Now, the independent artist aims to reach the youth of East Los Angeles through his music.
His debut song titled “East Los” is now available to stream. He collaborated with Marvin Delgado, a three-time platinum Grammy nominated enginner, for the song.
“East Los” has been gaining attention from radio stations such as Power 106, Real 92.3 and KDay 93.5. His song has also been played at Dodger stadium during a game. Oliver was even invited to perform the song at the Japan Music showcase in Hiroshima, Japan to represent Chicano culture.
“It’s cool to love. The core message I want to send out is to be you. I’m here to make a real change,” Oliver said.