Arts & Life

From hardships to humor

Two Hollywood humorists sat in an office for hours, dreaming up a television show that would feature a Latino as the star. Fifteen years ago, this night in Sandra Bullock’s office was the first time someone gave George Lopez an opportunity.

Lopez told the California State University, Long Beach audience that he questioned the possibility of being a central focus for a sitcom.

Lopez spoke to hundreds of CSULB students at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center on Tuesday, making them laugh while encouraging them not to fear failure.

“No one should be able to tell you whether you can succeed or fail but you,” Lopez said. “I never imagined myself having a television show because no one made me believe that I could do something that was unimaginable.”

The “George Lopez” show has filmed more than 120 episodes and is still on air today.

Lopez greeted the roaring audience, saying that CSULB is now predominately Latino. “It’s about time!” Lopez said, laughing.

Lopez, the first Latino to host a late-night talk show, spoke about his strict upbringing by his grandmother and his experiences as a Latino in Hollywood.

“The hardest part in any occupation is to be unprepared,” Lopez said. “Colors have nothing to do with it, preparation does.”

Senior Chicanos studies major at CSULB Sebastian Ortega said he can relate to Lopez and the struggles that Latinos sometimes experience.

“The lack of resources that [Latinos] have and are provided with contribute to how successful we are,” Ortega said. “It’s always good to see someone you can relate to doing big things.”

Lopez’s grandmother did not allow him to go many places or do much when he was young. When Lopez’s grandmother saw her role play out on “George Lopez,” she commented, “You made me nice!”

Lopez said that as he became older, he realized a deep appreciation for his upbringing and was glad he did not end up like many of his childhood friends.

California State university, Long Beach students fill up the Carpenter Performing Arts Center for the Associated Student Inc.'s sold out event, "An Evening with George Lopez".
Michael Ares
California State university, Long Beach students fill up the Carpenter Performing Arts Center for the Associated Student Inc.’s sold out event, “An Evening with George Lopez”.

Although Lopez spoke about a variety of different topics, he continually emphasized the importance of having self-confidence and never saying “no.”

“I used to be concerned with everything that everybody else was doing, and asked, ‘Why that guy, and not me?’” Lopez said. “But one day I woke up and told myself that I’m not going to be worried with everyone else, I’m just going to work hard and see what I can do on my own.”

Lopez also spoke about the challenges of coming into fame as a Latino comedian.

“It was a different time then. I think the challenges were that there wasn’t a lot of understanding about the community,” Lopez said. “But now, there’s a lot of other communities and I have a lot of respect for everybody that’s doing it.”

Lopez revealed to the audience that he used to “wet the bed” growing up. Although Lopez and his grandmother thought this was because he drank too much water, they soon found out that he had kidney disease.

He told his doctor that he did not want to become the “poster child for kidney disease,” but after his surgery in 2005, Lopez decided that he wanted to help others and raised about $5 million for people suffering from the disease.

Leslie Garcia, the chair of the University Student Union Program Council, organized the even. She said George Lopez and his successes as a Latino in Hollywood are inspiring for other students.

“I think students can relate to George Lopez,” Garcia said. “He’s different and has done all of these amazing things.”

Lopez ended the night by taking a selfie and recording a video of the audience. He announced that half of his check would be donated back to CSULB, inspiring a standing ovation from the audience.

“Prepare yourself, have fun, love what you’re doing and never quit,” Lopez said.

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