Character actor Danny Trejo took a different road to find fame in Hollywood. Instead of trodding the boards on Broadway honing his craft or working on a television series to perfect his acting technique, he did several stretches in the country’s most infamous prisons.
Trejo, 77, a convicted felon who overcame his struggles with drugs and violence to hobnob with Tinsel Town’s most powerful stars, gives credit to God for helping him find his way. He’s been sober for more than 50 years now.
Trejo recently partnered with fellow actor Donal Logue to write his memoir titled Trejo: My Life of Crime, Redemption, and Hollywood.
The book chronicles Trejo’s life including his abusive childhood, a life behind bars, and how he came to have a personal relationship with the Almighty.
The actor told Fox News about the deal he made with God 53 years ago while in prison, and how faith continues to play a central role in his life today.
“First of all, I made a deal with God in 1968. I said, ‘If you let me die with dignity, I’ll say your name every day. And I’ll do whatever I can for my fellow inmate.’ I never thought I was getting out of prison. And God let me out of prison. I got out on Aug. 23, 1969,” Trejo recalled.
“I have to say that with God, nothing can hurt you. Anything is possible. Without God, you’re dead. And I know I would be without the faith I have,” he said.
“I wake up every morning and say, ‘Dear Heavenly Father, please let me help whoever I can for my fellow man. And I’ll say your name every day and I’ll do whatever I can.’ And it’s been working. He lived up to his deal. I’m living up to mine. I even asked God a couple of days ago, ‘How am I doing?’ He said, ‘Trejo, you’re doing great. Keep it up. You’re almost out of hell’,” the actor said laughing.
Trejo also shared with the network what it was like when he realized he had a drug problem and needed help.
“I got clean in ’68 in prison. I then got out of prison in 1969… It seemed like I did better, but there was still something missing. …I didn’t think turning me on to marijuana was abuse when I was 8. I thought it was sharing. It was a form of abuse. I didn’t know. So when you finally start realizing, ‘Wait a minute man, this is not right,’ that’s when the healing really begins,” he said.
“Now, I tell my kids I love them every day. I’ll call them up and say, ‘I love you and you’re the apple of my eye.’ I guess I’m doing everything my parents didn’t do. And yet, I refuse to blame them. That was what they knew,” he explained.
Besides his 36-year film career in which he has garnered more than 380 film and television credits, Trejo is also a successful businessman. He owns seven locations of Trejo’s Tacos, Trejo’s Cantina, and Trejo’s Coffee & Donuts in the Los Angeles area, and may soon expand the franchise nationwide.