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Jorge Ramirez-Martinez

Jorge Ramirez-Martinez '08 translated script for "Queen of the South," a new television drama series on USA Network.

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Alumnus makes primetime TV debut

Jun 10, 2016

Jorge Ramirez-Martinez is making it big in Hollywood. Not in front of the camera, but behind it.

The Stockton native who graduated from Pacific in 2008 with degrees in English, Spanish and film studies, was working as a writer's assistant for "Famous," a new sitcom by FOX set to debut June 12.

Then it got cancelled.

"That's just how this industry is," he said. "One day you're at the top, and the next, you've hit the bottom."

But Ramirez-Martinez doesn't stay down for long. He also worked as the Spanish translator for "Queen of the South," a new television drama series for USA Network that airs June 23. The border drama, based on the best-selling novel, "La Reina del Sur," follows protagonist Teresa Mendoza, a Mexican money changer who eventually becomes a cutthroat drug dealer.

He translated parts of the script from English to Spanish and edited the show's subtitles in post-production. "This was the first time I got to use my English, Spanish and film studies degrees to translate dialogue for a TV show."

Ramirez-Martinez knew he was destined for a career in the film industry since childhood, but he credits Patti McCarthy, visiting assistant professor of film studies, for helping him find his potential and get into one of the best film schools in the world.
"She was my mentor. She told me I belong at USC and her belief in me gave me the courage to apply." He was accepted to USC's School of Cinematic Arts and completed his master's degree in film production in 2012.

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Ramirez-Martinez (second from left) and Patti McCarthy (right) pose with George Lucas at the Gallo Center in Modesto during the 40th Anniversary of American Graffiti.

McCarthy, who is a Pacific and USC graduate herself, talked glowingly about her former student. 

"He has the ability to tell intimately human stories. Things that connect us to humanity. He has a gift and I hope to be in touch with him for the rest of my life."

Since graduating from USC, Ramirez-Martinez has added a long list of accomplishments to his resume.

In 2013, he reunited with McCarthy and other Pacific film studies graduates to produce documentaries about George Lucas's life and film career for the Historic Modesto Graffiti Route Project and 40th Anniversary of American Graffiti. The team created four mini documentaries for kiosks that line the 10th and 11th Street loop in downtown Modesto.


Last fall, he was selected for the National Hispanic Media Coalition TV Writers Program, a five-week intensive scriptwriters workshop that prepares Latinos for writing jobs at major TV networks. He was one of only 10 writers around the world to be admitted.

"Right now, Latinos make up only two percent of the writers in Hollywood," said Ramirez-Martinez. "I'm hoping this experience will open doors for me."

If his recent successes are any indication, that door will open any minute. In the meantime, he's busy working on other projects, including writing a children's book with a Pacific alumna and writing a pilot for a drama inspired by Stockton. Starting this fall, he will be working as a staff writer for the show "The Blacklist: Redemption" on NBC.

"Queen of the South" debuts on USA Network at 10 p.m. on June 23, 2016.