By Leonard Rodriguez
This column highlights inspiring stories of Latino leaders. For more than 50 years, Latino men and women have positively influenced the face of United States society. Let us celebrate these outstanding hispanics.

Robert Rodriguez

Making one of the hottest and most unprecedented directorial debuts in history, Robert Rodriguez grabbed Hollywood’s attention when he wrote and directed “El Mariachi” on a $7,000 budget. Grossing $1.5 million, the film won the Audience Prize at the Sundance Film Festival and thrust Rodriguez into the spotlight. He signed a contract with Columbia Pictures and was befriended by another of Hollywood’s hottest talents, Quentin Tarentino, to shoot “From Dusk till Dawn” and “Four Rooms.” Committed to bringing more Latinos to the silver screen, he has cast Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayak, Cheech Marin and other burgeoning Hispanic artists in his films. Hoping his success will inspire more Hispanics to enter the film industry, Rodriguez says, “If I can do it, you can do it.”