Kids these days will never know how impossible it was to go five feet in public without seeing a Vote for Pedro shirt somewhere. The plain red font became iconic, and Pedro himself rose to stardom in turn as actor Efren Ramirez took off in Hollywood.
While you may not have recognized him, he’s been steadily working across major television to this day and you’ve probably seen him.
Born to a family of Salvadoran immigrants in Los Angeles, California, Efren was just half of a set of twins that came into the world in October of 1973.
While he was just one of four brothers in total, his parents made sure to foster his love of drama and theater early on.
Jurassic… High School
It would pay off for Efren Ramirez when his first role came around in the 1994 cult classic . It may have been a small part of just a pizza delivery boy, but you know your career is destined for greatness when this is your first film.
The movie revolved around Denise Richards and Paul Walker, who still try to maintain their loving relationship despite Walker’s character dying and his train being translated into a T-Rex clone. If it sounds insane that’s because it is, and it’s glorious.
The remainder of the nineties saw Efren moving around the indie and lower-budget film circuits, usually ending up in small parts like in the very ill-remembered Kazaam alongside Shaq and King Cobra, which was the equivalent of a Syfy original in the 90s.
The 2000s would see a turnaround, with Efren turning more to television than film with a two-episode spot on Even Stevens
Roles would continue with guest spots on Boston Legal and ER before finally hitting the role that would make him famous in Napoleon Dynamite.
Playing Pedro, the new student Napoleon befriends at school and ends up helping to elect class president, Efren would bring a timid, dry humor that would define that character for a generation of outcasts.
Napoleon would bring him a stable career playing the character too, with Efren Ramirez reprising the famous role for everything from award presentations to state fair ads alongside co-star Jon Heder. They even reprised them as recently as 2016 for one of the aforementioned state fairs.
Napoleon would launch him to success as class president and a comedic actor, landing an almost immediate gig in the Dane Cook/Dax Shepherd comedy Employee of the Month (which Shepherd STEALS) as the bumbling box boy idolizing Shepherd’s cashier. While the movie was Dane Cook enough to not be great, it had enough other balancing forces to make it a fun comedy (minus you, Andy Dick.)
Around the same time in 2006, he popped up in the Jason Statham classic Crank, also featuring a cameo by the late Chester Bennington of Linkin Park.
Even better, Efren’s character in Crank would die in the film, yet he would come back to portray his character’s twin brother in Crank 2: High Voltage.
Moving between romcoms and indie comedies. would land him in more comedy gold starting around 2010 with both a recurring role in Eastbound and Down as well as the part of Ma-Ti in Funny or Die’s classic Captain Planet series starring Don Cheadle. Everyone should be required to watch this series of shorts at least once in their lives.
He would go on to reprise the character in both sequels, seeing Don Cheadle progressively destroy humanity by literally returning them to nature. Peak Funny or Die was an amazing thing to live through.
Along with his other Napoleon Dynamite costars Efren would reprise the role of Pedro for the animated series in 2012, though it was quickly canceled after only six episodes.
He would keep low-key for the most part until about 2015 when he would make a guest appearance on the DC show Constantine and start popping up more in film and television during the next half of the decade, although it wouldn’t be nearly as prolific.
Where is Efren Ramirez Now?
He keeps his personal life mostly under wraps, only making appearances for cons or for some motivational speaking about making it as a do-it-your-self in Hollywood. He would even write a book on the subject in 2008. While he was married briefly to actress Iyari Limon in the late 90s, he’s had no public relations since then.
These days he still shows up across film and television, most recently voicing Airman Diaz in Disney’s Lightyear alongside Chris Evans.
He’s also appeared on shows like FBI: Most Wanted and indie horror Satanic Hispanics in 2022. Now into 2023 and he still has projects on the board alongside legends like Danny Trejo currently in production.
In the meantime, he seems to be focused on working wherever he can while also exposing the world to his heritage and culture from Salvadore.
He’s also active on Twitter andInstagram, recently posting a picture with the original Sledgehammer bike his character owned in Napoleon Dynamite.
Even more interesting is the complete break he took from tweeting about politics and art to dunk on David Ayer’s Joker from Suicide Squad with a simple one-word tweet of “No”. I think we all can agree.