A Lifelong Journey: Walter Dominguez and Shelley Morrison bring “Weaving the Past” to Light
It has taken eleven years, but actress Shelley Morrison and her husband of forty-one years, Walter Dominguez are finally able to share Weaving the Past: Journey of Discovery, the story of Dominguez’ own ancestors interwoven with the largely unknown, but important history of Mexico and the U.S. It is a story of tragedy, hope, and discovery that he’s been working towards for his entire life, and especially since his beloved grandfather died in 1973.
A few years ago, Walter decided the time had come to bring the project to fruition—“when the people in your life who have always been there are going or gone.” It was then that he realized it was time to collect his stories and pass them on to the next generation. “You need to let your children know they come from somewhere,” he said, “They didn’t just appear like mushrooms out of nowhere.”
And Morrison and Dominguez were just the ones to do it. Both have been involved in the entertainment industry for decades. Dominguez has remained behind the camera for the most part, but Morrison is one of the more recognizable Latino actresses of her generation. In her interview Angela Ortíz of Se Fija!, she talks with affection and insight about her best-remembered roles, including Sister Sixto on “The Flying Nun” with Sally Field, and Rosario on “Will & Grace.” “That was great,” she told Angela. “I’ve been blessed. But this is a whole different ball game.”
Weaving the Past begins with the history of the American West, and the violence, oppression, and tragedy that Dominguez’ ancestors–and almost all Latinos–faced. And it continues forward, well into the twentieth century, to see how families have grown and changed…and how they have stayed the same. “I wanted to let people go with me and experience the basic humanity of people everywhere,” he said. And the project was important enough to the couple that they invested their own money in the project, so they could do it the way they wanted.
Now, at long last, it’s ready to present to the community. Morrison and Dominquez both hope it reaches a wide audience as well. “We hope that people will bring their kids,” Walter says, especially older children who can appreciate a two-hour film with some pretty affecting imagery. “They’ll learn history that isn’t taught in our schools, not only for Latin people but for all people. The story of one immigrant family in this country is really a universal story. After all, most of us are from somewhere else.”
There are important and universal stories here, Morrison says, “There’s a journey, a lot of passion and a lot of real faces. People are hungry to see a film where they can connect again, where they can feel. They want to learn more.”
Meanwhile, Morrison and Rodriguez are already at work on their next project. Whitewashed Adobe chronicles the creation of Los Angeles from 1850 to 1950. They have already gathered more than twenty interviews from a wide range of people who were part of the city’s beginning, with much more to come. Work is well underway.
Any lover of history or geography, anyone who wants to learn more about the past and their culture will enjoy “Weaving the Past.” It premieres in a special set of screenings at the Laemmle Theaters in Pasadena, with four showings a day from August 15 to 21. There are even matinee prices and ample free parking.