Danny Trejo Visited the University of Wisconsin-Madison to Speak on His Life, Career, and Food

The Actor for All Generations

Danny Trejo has been acting since the 80s and has created a lasting cultural impact in American entertainment. Trejo has appeared in several movies and TV shows such as Blood In Blood Out, The Spy Kids series, Heat, the Machete series, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Sons of Anarchy, Modern Family, and Breaking Bad. Throughout his acting career, he has advocated for the representation of Latinos and for justice to always be apparent in his movies.

“First off, there’s gotta be so many Latinos in the movie. Secondly, I won’t do a movie where the bad guy gets away,” said Trejo. “If I’m the bad guy and get away, then nah, there’s going to be a sequel.”

Trejo Speaks To Madison

On March 20, 2024, the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus hosted the iconic actor where he spoke to an audience about his transformative life journey. The talk was titled “Reshaping Destiny: An Evening With Danny Trejo”. The event featured a 60-minute Q&A with the actor moderated by poet, translator, and scholar Ruben Medina, followed by a 30-minute audience Q&A.

Danny Trejo before his appearance in Shannon Hall on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. (Picture by Maria Peralta-Arellano/Carvd N Stone)
Danny Trejo before his appearance in Shannon Hall on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. (Picture by Maria Peralta-Arellano/Carvd N Stone)

Trejo was invited by the Wisconsin Union Directorate as a part of the Distinguished Lecture Series.

The actor spoke about his early life, his acting career, his time in prison, and his experiences after his release. Trejo spent much of the first part of his life incarcerated, but upon his release he dedicated himself to helping others, claiming that everything he has built is due to his willingness to lend a helping hand.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I believe I was going to be in movies. Never in my wildest dreams did I believe I was going to own restaurants, I honestly believed I was going to die in prison.When I started doing good for other people every avenue opened up to me.”

– Danny Trejo

Fans filled the hall and for 30 minutes expressed their love for the actor, and asked questions on how to handle life’s struggles.

A Man with Range

Aside from his acting career, Trejo is an animal lover, author, mentor, and restaurant owner. Trejo opened his first restaurant Trejo’s Tacos in 2016 in Los Angeles. Since then, he has opened up four other stores, including Trejo’s Coffee and Doughnuts.

Trejo says he and his team are working on opening taco spots in Detroit and in London.

In 2020, the actor released his first cookbook, “Trejo’s Tacos: Recipes and Stories from L.A.: A Cookbook” and released “Trejo’s Cantina: Cocktails, Snacks & Amazing Non-Alcoholic Drinks from the Heart of Hollywood” in 2023. The actor also released “Trejo: My Life of Crime, Redemption, and Hollywood” in 2022, written with the help of Donal Logue. 

Trejo was able to completely reinvent a new life for himself and maintain a positive attitude in life. His only goals now are to be recognized as a loving father and the best bad guy the big screen has ever seen.

Maria Peralta-Arellano is a Milwaukee-native journalist who focuses on sharing news from her local communities. She dedicates her work to accessibility and producing bilingual coverage focused on arts, culture, and politics. She looks to explore her community through a journalistic and creative lens.

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