Born to parents of Mexican descent, Luis Valdez spent his childhood as a migrant farm worker. After graduating from San Jose State College he spent a year with the San Francisco Mime Troupe which culminated in a cultural exchange trip to Cuba. Upon his return to the US, Valdez returned to his hometown of Delano and joined Cesar Chavez's United Farmworkers. There he formed a workers' theatre company, "El Teatro Campesino," which developed original material in the form of short agitprop skits called "actos." "El Teatro Campesino" also produced several short films of their plays.