America Ferrera is shocked that more people don't know about activist Cesar Chavez.
The actress stars as Chavez's wife, Helen, in the upcoming film about the labor organizer and activist called "Cesar Chavez," which hits theaters on March 28.
"This is absolutely a role that has so much meaning for me and a film that I am so proud to be a part of," Ferrera, 29, told OTRC.com in a recent interview. "I grew up knowing Cesar Chavez and knowing the movement and, quite frankly, shocked to learn that others didn't know who Cesar Chavez was 'cause to me he was an American civil rights leader and how could we not all know his contribution?"
The movie, which stars Michael Pena as Chavez and was directed by actor Diego Luna, chronicles Chavez's efforts to organize farm workers in California and form a labor union. The film also stars John Malkovich, Rosario Dawson, Wes Bentley and "Revenge" star Gabriel Mann.
OTRC.com talked to Ferrera about the film, her passion for the project and working with Luna. Check out video from the interviews above and three highlights below.
1. Ferrera appreciated director Diego Luna's approach to humanizing Chavez.
"I was psyched to know that the movie was being made and that Diego was the visionary for it because I think he's incredibly talented as an actor and a director," the actress said. "And I love that his intention was to really humanize the icon and the hero and to make him just a person, because I think that that's an incredibly inspiring message for the rest of us mere mortals that you know, you're not born a hero. We all make sacrifices to achieve change."
2. On playing Chavez's wife and fellow activist, Helen Chavez...
When asked what it was like to portray the woman behind Cesar Chavez, Ferrera said, "I like to say beside Cesar Chavez."
"Helen's connection to this cause was not just about supporting Cesar. She was working on the fields since she was 7 years old and Cesar and Helen married at 19, so they grew up together," Ferrera added. "In a way, who they both became as people was so deeply informed by each other and so when she was out there protesting, picketing, pamphleting, getting arrested, running the credit union, you know, that was about a fight for her own dignity."
3. Ferrera considers it "an incredible honor" to be a part of the film.
At the premiere of "Cesar Chavez" in Los Angeles earlier this month, Ferrera told us, "It's an incredible honor to be a part of this film."
She added, "It took four years to make this movie, but it took over 50 years to get this movie about Cesar Chavez made and now that it's here, it's an incredible honor that this American hero, this man who contributed so much to our history, to the rights for social justice and the fight in social justice for civil rights, that his story is now being told."
Reporting by George Pennacchio of KABC Television, which produces the nationally syndicated entertainment show "On The Red Carpet" (check for local TV listings).