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Adrian Grenier, Michelle Rodriguez, and Linda Chavez

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Henry Louis Gates Jr continues the genealogy series in which 25 prominent Americans trace their ancestry, using cutting-edge DNA testing to provide a complete picture of their heritage. In each of the ten episodes, Gates features a group of famous people who share an intimate link, whether they realise it or not. Actress Michelle Rodriguez, political commentator Linda Chavez and actor Adrian Grenier all share Spanish colonial roots, yet each views their own identity very differently. Linda sees herself as a mix of European cultures, Michelle feels Hispanic, and Adrian is more interested in his Native American roots, although closer examination reveals these to be more tenuous than he realised. The episode explores what it means to be Hispanic and finds that the answer lies in the tangled histories of European, Native American and African peoples. Criss-crossing Mexico, Spain, the Caribbean and the American south west, Professor Henry Gates reveals stories of ancestral conquistadors, Indian rebels and ‘Crypto-Jews’, Spanish Jews who converted to Catholicism to survive the Inquisition, yet continued to practise their religion in secret. He shows that the American experience has been shaped by people who arrived in the New World long before the Mayflower.

FYR_logo_canvas_900x227px_3Adrian Grenier, Michelle Rodriguez, and Linda Chavez with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
profilesgrenier-155Adrian Grenier made his acting debut in 1997 in the independent film The Adventures of Sebastian Cole. A graduate of New York City’s LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, the New Mexico-born, New York-raised actor went on to work with esteemed directors such as Steven Spielberg and Woody Allen before landing the coveted lead role in the award-winning HBO series Entourage.

Adrian has since added director and producer on multiple platforms to his credits. His first film, Shot in the Dark, chronicles his journey to reconnect with his estranged father. The film premiered at the 2002 Tribeca Film Festival, was distributed by HBO, and had a strong impact among its viewers. In 2007, Adrian teamed up with producer Peter Glatzer and sustainability expert Lauren Gropper to develop the television series Alter-Eco, a sustainable lifestyle series produced for Discovery Communications channel Planet Green. After the series ended, Adrian launched SHFT.com, a website with a mission to convey a more sustainable approach to the way we live through video, design, art and culture.

In 2010, Adrian’s production company completed and released two documentaries. Teenage Paparazzo, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, focuses on 13-year-old Austin Visschedyk and the celebrity-obsessed world in which he operates. Teenage Paparazzo aired on HBO and 40 outlets around the world. Currently, the film is touring universities and town halls throughout North America. Adrian recently launched the Teenage Paparazzo Empowerment tour, hoping to reach more than 80 high schools in the U.S. His third documentary, Don’t Quit Your Daydream, follows the story of two life-long musicians who are in a band together called The Good Listeners. They take a road trip through the heart of America recording their third album. Along the way they collaborate with an offbeat cast of strangers who force them to reconsider what it means to live a life dedicated to the art of music.

Adrian’s fourth film, How to Make Money Selling Drugs, is a full-length feature documentary soon to be released. Drugs is a tongue-in-cheek look at what is considered to be one of the worst domestic policy failures in recent American history. Adrian’s fifth project, a documentary film entitled My Name is Faith, will premiere at the 2012 Hot Docs Film Festival. In addition, he has several feature films and television series in development.

Whether playing with his band The Honey Brothers or in his own recording studio in Brooklyn, New York, Adrian surrounds himself with music when not exploring the medium of film. In 2012, he started wreckroomrecords.com, a gathering place for bands, friends and fellow musicians to write, record and play. The content is made available via the website for fellow music lovers to share and delight. In addition to film and music, Adrian is a budding entrepreneur, launching a unique beer company this spring called Churchkey, reviving the steel flat-top can and evoking a nostalgic experience with every beer. When Adrian is not working, he enjoys cooking, knitting and walking small white dogs.

profilesrodriguez-155Michelle Rodriguez is a versatile actress known for the ability to combine her “tough girl” physicality with a natural beauty and unforced sex appeal.

She has most recently been seen in the Robert Rodriguez-helmed action-feature Machete, James Cameron’s record-breaking sci-fi epic AVATAR, the highly successful return of the Fast & Furious franchise and sci-fi/action flick, Battle: Los Angeles. This September she returns to yet another box office hit franchise for its fifth installment, Resident Evil: Retribution.

Born Mayte Michelle Rodriguez in Bexar County, Texas, she worked as an extra for two years satisfying her curiosity about movie making. After that she decided to pursue acting and landed her first audition from an ad she spotted in Backstage West and soon she was acting in the hit indie film The Girlfight. The role garnered Rodriguez numerous awards and much critical acclaim. This success launched her as a young star quickly on the rise in Hollywood.

Still going strong off the success of her acting debut, she went on to co-star opposite Danny Glover in the Showtime telepic drama 3 A.M. and the adrenaline-charged mega-hit The Fast and the Furious, opposite Vin Diesel and Paul Walker. An avid video game fan who has since lent her voice to various popular games including “True Crime: Streets of LA,” “Driver3,” and “Halo 2,” Rodriguez jumped at the opportunity to take a role in Resident Evil, an adaptation of the hit game series.

Her other feature films credits include Battle in Seattle opposite Charlize Theron, Blue Crush; the summer blockbuster S.W.A.T., opposite Samuel L. Jackson and Colin Farrell; and Control, with Ray Liotta. Last year, she completed the film, Trópico de Sangre in which she both stars and co-produces in association with her production company Cheshire Kat.
In 2005, a new chapter of her career would begin when she took a starring role in ABC’s hugely popular television series Lost, playing haunted and hardened ex-cop ‘Ana Lucia,’ who was revealed during the show’s second season and given the chance to return and wrap up her storyline with an appearance this past final season of the series (2010).

fiyo-chavez-155Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity, a non-profit public policy research organization in Falls Church, Virginia. She also writes a weekly syndicated column that appears in newspapers across the country and is a political analyst for FOX News Channel. Chavez authored Out of the Barrio: Toward a New Politics of Hispanic Assimilation (Basic Books 1991), which the Denver Post described as a book that “should explode the stereotypes about Hispanics that have clouded the minds of patronizing liberals and xenophobic conservatives alike.” National Review described Chavez’s memoir, An Unlikely Conservative: The Transformation of an Ex-Liberal (Basic Books 2002), as a “brilliant, provocative, and moving book.” Chavez’s latest book, Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics (Crown Books, 2004), describes how unions divert hundreds of millions of dollars into political campaigns, often without their members’ knowledge or permission, and the public policy consequences that ensue. In 2000, Chavez was honored by the Library of Congress as a “Living Legend” for her contributions to America’s cultural and historical legacy. In January 2001, Chavez was President George W. Bush’s nominee for Secretary of Labor until she withdrew her name from consideration.

Chavez has held a number of appointed positions, among them Chairman, National Commission on Migrant Education (1988-1992); White House Director of Public Liaison (1985); Staff Director of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (1983-1985); and she was a member of the Administrative Conference of the United States (1984-1986). Chavez was the Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Maryland in 1986. In 1992, she was elected by the United Nations’ Human Rights Commission to serve a four-year term as U.S. Expert to the U.N. Sub-commission on the Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities.

Chavez was also editor of the prize-winning quarterly journal American Educator (1977-1983), published by the American Federation of Teachers, where she also served as assistant to AFT president Al Shanker (1982-1983) and assistant director of legislation (1975-1977).

Chavez serves on the Board of Directors of ABM Industries, Inc., where she chairs the Compensation Committee, and Research Electro-Optics Inc. She has also served on the boards of Greyhound and Pilgrim’s Pride. Chavez was born in Albuquerque, NM, on June 17, 1947, received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Colorado in 1970. She is married and is the mother of three sons. She currently lives in Arlington, VA, and Boulder, CO.

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