Actor Lou Diamond Phillips is no stranger to the dramatic ups and downs and surprises of his profession. Just look at the way he burst onto the Hollywood scene in 1987 with the surprise hit biopic La Bamba after years of working in Fort Worth theater and small Texas-produced independent films. His portrayal of doomed '50s rocker Ritchie Valens won him acclaim. His next role, that of a troubled gangleader who is reluctantly inspired to change by a charismatic math teacher in Stand and Deliver (1988) -- which was actually finished before La Bamba's release -- and his portrayal of young outlaw Jose Chavez Y Chavez in Young Guns (1988) made it seem that Phillips' youthful prediction that he would become a major star would indeed come true. But then Phillips showed up in a long line of box-office and direct-to-video bombs and he disappeared into obscurity and he seemed destined to remain there for the rest of his career.
Phillips is one of Hollywood's most distinctive actors and is known for his intense performances. He is a tall, slender man with raven-black hair, deep-brown almond-shaped eyes, and cheekbones reminiscent of ancient Mayan statues. His distinctly "ethnic" looks come from his rich family heritage. Phillips claims he is part Hawaiian, Filipino, Cherokee, and Scots-Irish. His dark complexion and exotic looks have relegated him to "ethnic" roles in Hollywood. Phillips was born Lou Upchurch in the Philippines, the son of a naval aircraft mechanic, and raised in Flour Bluff, a small town near Corpus Christie, TX.