DURANT, Okla. – Dr. Rolando Díaz, Chair of the Department of English, Humanities, and Languages at Southeastern Oklahoma State University, has helped turn the story of one of the most influential Latino men in cinema history into a new book, leading to multiple opportunities in Díaz’ line of academic interest, Hispanic, Chicano, Latino Studies and Spanish Literature.
Díaz is the author of the preface of Pepe Serna: Life is Art, a new book written by the cinematic powerhouse Pepe Serna, who has appeared in over 100 feature films and 300 television shows over more than five decades of work. The memoir is illustrated with over 100 photos from Serna’s personal archives along with full color reproductions of Serna’s renowned artwork. Diaz also assisted with the editing of the memoirs.
“My second cousin is Peter Gonzales Falcon, who was a very famous actor back in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and I was helping him with his memoirs,” Díaz said. “He told me, ‘I know someone else who needs some help on his memoirs, his name is Pepe Serna, can you help him?’ and I said “sure”.”
After the initial introduction by Gonzales Falcon, Díaz and Serna met in 2021 and worked on Serna’s book until its recent completion and publication. This led to Díaz also being included as an associate producer of a 2022 documentary on Serna, also titled Life is Art.
Díaz contributed significantly to the Life is Art projects, where Serna puts forth the message that positive energy creates unending opportunity. The book’s purpose is to inspire, to motivate, and, ultimately, to validate the lives not only of Chicanos, Pachucos, Latinos, Hispanics, and Mexican-Americans, but of everyone who reads, connects with, and understands Serna’s universal message of love, altruism, and self-empowerment.
In concert with interviews for the documentary and book in meetings in Los Angeles, Díaz has also connected with famous actors such as Edward James Olmos, Eva Longoria, and activist, Dolores Huerta.
Through these meetings and other connections made along the way, Díaz now has multiple new projects in development – including the Spanish translation of Pepe Serna: Life is Art – all of which will deal with the Hispanic identity, especially in regard to life in the United States.
“This kind of work is very fulfilling on a very personal level, but also because it’s the area I focused on for my doctoral studies,” Díaz said. Díaz earned his doctoral degree from Texas Tech in 2017 in Spanish Literature. “I’ve been working on other projects for years, and interviewing all of these people on the Hispanic experience has been incredible.”
Pre-sales of Pepe Serna: Life is Art are now available at www.PepeSerna.net.