Interviewing The Real Life Inspirations of McFarland, USA #McFarlandUSAEvent

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As part of the #McFarlandUSAEvent blog team, I got to do some pretty cool things thanks to Disney.  All opinions, as always, are 100% my own!

Jim White and Diaz Brothers - Silvia Mtz

Photo Credit: Silvia Mtz/Mama Latina Tips

I absolutely love movies that are inspired by true life stories.  Never once did I think that I would get to interview the real life inspirations behind one of these movies.  But I got this amazing opportunity to do so as part of the #McFarlandUSAEvent!  Myself, along with the other 24 mom and dad bloggers, got to interview the real Jim White, Danny Diaz, Damacio Diaz, and David Diaz.  It was fun learning about how their mom really is compared to how she is on screen, how McFarland is now that there’s a movie about the town, and more!

L to R: Damacio Diaz (Michael Aguero), Coach Jim White (Kevin Costner), and Senora Diaz (Diana Maria Riva) Photo Credit: Film Frame/Disney

L to R: Damacio Diaz (Michael Aguero), Coach Jim White (Kevin Costner), and Senora Diaz (Diana Maria Riva)
Photo Credit: Film Frame/Disney

When you see McFarland, USA you will be introduced to the Diaz brother’s mother.  We asked the brothers if she’s really a scene stealer in real life like she is in the movie:

David: No, not at all.  Much worse.  [laughs]

Jim: Let me answer that, ’cause when Mrs. Diaz saw this film the first time, she came out and she said I love the film, but they didn’t make me strict enough.

David: Yeah, so just to let you know: I think Hollywood did a very good job of depicting and not making it look too guilty as regards to CPS. [laughs]  We’re proud of what Hollywood did and what Niki did and the producer and everyone – but we lived in a very strict environment and still do to this day.


Danny Diaz Photo Credit: Silvia Mtz/Mama Latina Tips

We were all curious on how McFarland has changed since there’s a movie about the town:

Danny: Growing up in McFarland, we didn’t have much.  There’s nothing to do in McFarland.  When we were growing up, maybe seven, eight, nine, ten thousand people is the population.  It’s grown a little bit in the last two or three years, but not much has changed.  It’s a poor community.  When you’re driving on 99, the freeway, you blink and you’ll miss it.  There’s not much to do there.  We don’t have the big malls.  We don’t actually have any malls.  We don’t have the big grocery stores.  So it’s just a fun place to be.  If it weren’t for sports, our kids would be lost because it’s either education and sports or the streets.  And those are the two extremes and those are the two options that are there for our community.  Right now our community is excited, obviously, with the movie and rightfully so.  All the notoriety that they’re getting and that this man over here, Mr. White, our coach, has brought to not just our program but to our community.  We all feel grateful and the whole community’s just embracing it.

Adding on to what Danny Diaz said, Mr. White elaborated a little bit more and it was interesting to hear that that the city has changed the logo and motto of their city:

Jim: His [Danny’s] viewpoint of not changing too much from that aspect, I see a definite change  We have changed our city logo.  We are no longer the Heartbeat of Agriculture.  Now we are a runner running through the field, a silhouette of a runner.  And underneath, and a high school girl came up with this logo – Tradition, Unity, and Excellence.  So that’s a big change.

David Diaz

David Diaz
Photo Credit: Silvia Mtz/Mama Latina Tips

Of course we were interested to hear whether they still train with the new cross country team since we saw them running with them at the end of the movie.

David: We run once in a while.  I still currently run.  I still race competitively even though you’re not as good as you once were.  But I still do that and I coach.  But the guys over here, we’re in decent shape still.

Damacio: Our kids all compete.  So we have kids that are in high school and some that are in elementary school.  I can’t keep up with my kids in high school but I can go with my little seven-year-old.  We run, you know, three, four, five miles a day just to stay in shape.

Damacio Diaz

Damacio Diaz
Photo Credit: Silvia Mtz/Mama Latina Tips

For the movie, we asked Mr. White what his first reaction was to their story becoming a movie.

Jim: It was in various stages because this was a 15-year process for us, my wife and I.  We signed with this one company.  Two years later we signed with another one.  It took a long process.  When Disney did it, we were thrilled very much so that Disney had it, because then we knew that it wouldn’t have any sex and cussing and cigarettes and that type of thing, you know.

In the movie, Jim White spends a day in the cabbage fields with the Diaz brothers to see what it was like to be a picker.  We asked Mr. White if he ever did that again:

Jim: I’ve done it quite often.  I didn’t enjoy it very much.  [laughs]  We didn’t do cabbage.  We didn’t have that close to us.  That was the only thing really that they had available to show that type of work.  It’s grapes and it’s oranges and it’s almonds and it’s cotton and stuff in our area, but those weren’t available.

Jim White and Diaz Brothers - Group - Silvia Mtz

Photo Credit: Silvia Mtz/Mama Latina Tips

It was an honor to get to interview Mr. Jim White, Danny Diaz, Damacio Diaz, and David Diaz.  They really are an inspiration and I love that their story is being seen in McFarland, USA.  Make sure to see McFarland, USA in theaters starting February 20, 2015!

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  1. Robin (Masshole Mommy) says

    Great interview. My husband is looking forward to this movie.

  2. How cool! Seriously, what a neat thing to get to attend!

  3. This movie sounds like it will be good. I want to see it with my son because it has an inspiring message.

  4. I’ve read many things about Kevin Costner lately about how is all for race equality in movies. I need to see this movie!

  5. What a cool opportunity! This sounds like a great movie, and it must have been a blast to get to meet the real people behind the movie’s story.

  6. This sounds so cool!

  7. What an awesome interview- so excited to see the movie!

  8. So cool that you got to interview them. Can’t wait to see this!

  9. This film just looks like a great American story- it’s so inspiring to see such a sense of community and also wonderful parenting come to life on the big screen through the stories of real people.

  10. What a great opportunity to meet the inspirations for the movie. Makes me want to see it even more.

  11. Great interview. I really loved this movie!

  12. I really can’t wait to see this movie! It seems like the real team was super involved in production!

  13. I love movies that are based off of true events! It is really awesome that you got to be part of an interview for the men behind the story!

  14. What a great opportunity to interview some real life heroes. I think this movie is going to be great.

  15. I really love stories about true stories. I especially like that this ones looks so inspirational. I can’t wait to catch it in theaters.

  16. This is definitely on my must-see list!! I always love sports related movies – so inspirational!

  17. Such an awesome experience! Thanks for sharing with us 🙂

  18. Lol @ they didn’t make her strict enough!

  19. I cannot wait to see this movie. I know it’s going to be amazing. I love real life stories like this.

  20. Can I just say “HELLOOOOO Danny Diaz!” :DD

  21. Love movies based on real life, I seem to get into them more. Great interview.

  22. Lisa Bristol says

    This is such a great interview. I am looking forward to seeing this movie.

  23. What a fun opportunity! This movie looks so great!

  24. I am looking forward to seeing this movie. I think it is great that you guys had the chance to interview the inspiration behind the movie.

  25. Wow this sounds like it was a blast. I really want to see the movie, Kevin Costner is always awesome.

  26. They have a really cool story, and as a runner, I’ve been interested in seeing it since I first heard about the movie.

  27. Carly Anderson says

    I’m so jealous of your entire trip!!!! What an amazing interview!

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