By Lt. Kelli B. Madsen, AA/Public Information Officer
Ironwood State Prison
Actor Danny Trejo, who served many years behind bars early in his life, shared his story with 65 high school students in a visit arranged by Warden Neil McDowell of Ironwood State Prison.
On Oct. 20, the actor visited Palo Verde High School to meet with students who participate in the drama and media programs. He also spoke to inmates at the prison.
During his school visit, Trejo spoke with the kids about giving back.
“Everyone needs to do their part in this world, to make it a better place. Don’t wait for things to happen; you have to make them happen,” he told the students.
He also said it’s important to help those in need.
“When you see someone who needs help, extend a hand,” he said. “You never know where this will take you.”
Trejo shared his story about how he got into the acting business as an extra for the movie “Runaway Train” in 1985. He said he was called to the film set by someone he was sponsoring as a Youth Drug Counselor. While there, he was seen by the movie’s director and offered a job as an extra for the film’s prison scenes. This opportunity led to another, then another. Mr. Trejo said people wanted to hire him in the business because he is easy going and pleasant to work with. He told the kids he didn’t believe in “prima donna actors.”
In the past, Mr. Trejo has come to Ironwood to speak with inmates about breaking destructive ties with gangs and overcoming addiction. He also places strong emphasis on education and conquering psychological obstacles related to self-doubt.
“You can do anything you set your mind to. You just gotta take a chance,” Trejo said.