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Alumni Spotlight: Eli Vargas stars in Cesar Chavez

At the tender age of eight, Eli Vargas began taking classes in voice, drums, and guitar at LAMusArt. From the start, Vargas’ passion for the arts was admirable and his talent notable. For over a decade, Vargas performed at the annual Stars for the Arts Benefit Concert as a featured soloist and ensemble member of the Youth Chorale. LAMusArt Executive Director, Isela Sotelo, recalls that Vargas was “one of the best singers our school has ever had!”

Now, 22, Vargas credits his studies of music at LAMusArt with opening “many doors . . . to pursue [his] vocal performance endeavors,” a statement which we are humbled and proud to recognize.

In addition to his passion for music, Vargas has also cultivated a career in acting, starting with commercial and voice-over work to recurring roles in television and film. Some of his notable television credits include guest roles in Summerland, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, The Office, and, most recently, as a season-regular on the latest season of Arrested Development on Netflix. 

Despite his growing recognition in Hollywood, however, Vargas continues to maintain a balanced lifestyle, never foregoing quality time with friends, family, or music. Close friend Allen Casillas, a long-time music student of LAMusArt and frequent music collaborator, describes Vargas as “a level-headed and laid-back kind of person.”

Currently, Eli Vargas can be seen in cinema screens across the U.S. and Mexico, starring in the Diego Luna directed biopic film, César Chavez. Luna, who also began his artistic career at a young age, may be recognizable to moviegoers for his acting work in American and Mexican cinema, having starred in Y Tú Mamá También, Rudo y Cursi, The Terminal, and Milk.

César Chavez is a biographical story of American hero-activist César Chavez, whose work and success to promote human rights for migrant farmworkers is lauded to this day. Vargas stars as Chávez’s oldest son, Fernando, and is joined on-screen by a diverse cast that features Michael Peña, America Ferrera, and Rosario Dawson.

For Vargas, his first major starring role may be an indication of greater things to come in his artistic career. Vargas is a current student at the University of Southern California, of which his Cesar Chavez on-screen mother, America Ferrera, is an alumni. Vargas is expected to graduate in 2015.

Photo credit from top to bottom: Patricia De La Rosa, Arrested Development Production Still, Arrested Development Production Still and Promotional image from Canana Films’ César Chavez.


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