Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Hollywood Premiere Spotlights Local Principal’s Son

Pratts family (with Carlos Pratts second from right) and Vanessa Garcia at the world
premiere of McFarland USA at the El Capitan Theatre.
Edgewood Elementary Principal Vivian Pratts was being a proud mom first as she stood with her adult son, Carlos, and family on the red carpet in Hollywood during the premiere of the new Disney film McFarland, USA.

Carlos Pratts, Vivian’s son, plays cross country team captain Thomas Valles in the new film. Carlos’ name now stands next to Academy Award winning costar Kevin Costner on billboards, posters and movie trailers. The film opens Feb. 20 in movie theaters nationwide.

“I’m a mom swelling with pride,” Vivian reports, but what impresses her deeply is McFarland USA’s inspirational story. The film retells how a group of Latino high school runners in the small farming town of McFarland, Calif., under the guidance of Coach Jim White, placed first in state cross country, remarkable in part because many of the teenagers worked as field laborers to support their families.

“It’s a T-2-4 story,” Vivian says, referring to the district goal to double the number of graduates who complete either military training, technical certifications, or two- or four-year college degrees.

Vivian Pratts stands next to a McFarland USA movie poster.
“Through a teacher who believes in students, even if the students did not believe in themselves at first, many of McFarland students went on to colleges and successful adult lives. This movie is really about perseverance and a teacher who sees talent in his children, and what happens when students begin to believe in themselves and each other,” she says.

Vivian attended the Hollywood movie premiere with her husband, Luis, the retired principal at Landrum Middle School, and their young son, Luis Pratts Jr.

Carlos Pratts is no newcomer to Hollywood television and film. In recent years, he has been seen in Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones and as the character, Gus, in FX television’s The Bridge. He has appeared in many other shows, too.

The Disney movie is his first major movie, but Carlos has been named as a Top 10 candidate to be named the next Spiderman. He’d love to be the first Latino Marvel superhero.

In McFarland, USA, Pratts earned “flat-out superb” kudos from Forbes magazine. A Hollywood publication, Variety, said that the “excellent” Pratts also “brings a grave emotional intensity to the role of the team’s most compelling individual.”

These positive reviews are a long trip from The Woodlands, where Carlos played football at The Woodlands High School until his senior year. A theater arts course taught by Larry Woods, now deceased, led him to believe in a Hollywood dream.

After attending the University of Texas at Arlington, Carlos moved out the West Coast after gaining the support of his two educator parents, who urged him nonetheless to have a “Plan B” in case Hollywood was not a perfect match.

“Carlos had our support when he went out there. He went with our blessing, but I did talk to him about how many years he’d give this before thinking about Plan B, his next step. He’d say, ‘Mom, there is no Plan B. If I have a Plan B, then I won’t do this,’” Vivian recalls.

Today, the Pratts extended family looks back to family events and gatherings for a single key moment when they knew that Carlos would be a star. Vivian believes in the hand of God – and Carlos deep desire to be a working actor.

“He has passion and determination. That’s the real reason why Carlos is going to make it,” says his proud mom. For more reading links, please visit:


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