About Severo

Black and white photo of Severo

SEVERO PEREZ, an award-winning filmmaker, playwright, and writer, grew up in working-class Westside San Antonio and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin. For over forty-five years he produced programing for PBS and for network and cable television. His feature film adaptation of Tomas Rivera’s novel . . . and the earth did not swallow him (1994) won eleven international awards, including five for Best Picture. His first novel, Willa Brown & the Challengers (2012), is historical fiction based on the real-life African American aviation pioneer Willa Beatrice Brown. Odd Birds is his second novel.

Severo has been featured in numerous publications and received many awards. Among them, in 2018 he was inducted into the Texas Institute of Letters and the Witliff Collections created a digital exhibition for …and the earth did not swallow him, the film that Severo wrote, directed, and produced. In the digital archive you can view interviews with Severo discussing everything from writing the screenplay, the challenges of adapting a film from a novel to a film, issues related to casting, all the way through post-production.

For a more complete list and access to the full archives of Severo's work, please visit the Wittliff Collection.

Partial List of Credits

This list does not include the films and programs produced for CBS Children’s division, MCA Universal, Chicago Museum of Science & Industry, National Institute of Health, and many corporate clients. 

ODD BIRDS, a novel. “A tragic twist of fate leaves a revered artist destitute in Texas in this novel. … An elegantly conceived tale—boasting a culturally and historically astute plot—that demands to be read.” Kirkus Reviews, 2019, 278 pages, TCU Press.

4 Dances & …and the earth did not swallow him film score; 2016; Executive and Creative Producer; Four dances are pieces inspired by the film score; and the original film score (51:00 minutes).

Willa Brown & The Challengers (2016); previously titled The Challengers Aero Club. A novel, 402 pages, published December 2012.)
A fictional retelling of the lives, adventures, and successes of African American pioneer aviators Willa Brown, Cornelius Coffey and Johnny Robinson.

Carmen Lomas Garza: Looking Back (42:30 minutes)
Writer/Producer/Director of a documentary about the work and influences of the award-winning artist and children’s book author. Filmed 1991, released May 2007.

COUNTDOWN: Reflections on a Life in Dance (56:40 minutes)
Producer/editor; Forty years ago internationally acclaimed dancer-choreographer, Rudy Perez, was hailed as a pioneer of postmodern dance. Today he defies definition as he continues to create provocative new work. March 2005.

Willa Beatrice Brown, an American Aviator (26:40 minutes)
Writer/Producer/Director of a half-hour documentary about the life of pioneer black aviator Willa Brown. Her contributions led the creation of the Tuskegee Airman and the integration of the U.S. Military. January 1999.

. . .and the earth did not swallow him (99:00 minutes)
Writer/Director, and Co-producer of the feature film adaptation of the Tomas Rivera novel, …y no se lo trago a tierra. Funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, American Playhouse, & CPB. Broadcast 1996. Set in 1952, the story revolves around Marcos, a twelve-year-old boy. His recollection of the events of the previous year becomes a powerful, often funny, sometimes tragic journey of self-discovery.

  • Gold Medal, 12th Annual Television Movie Awards, 1997
  • Jury Award, Vina del Mar (Chile) International Film Festival, 1996
  • Sol Award CineSol, Latino Film Festival, 1995
  • Best Feature, Minneapolis Rivertown Film Festival, 1995
  • Premio Mesquite, Best Feature Film, San Antonio Cinefestival, 1995
  • Jury Award Best Director, Cairo (Egypt) International Film Festival, 1994
  • “Best Of The Fest”, Audience Award, Santa Barbara Film Festival, 1994
  • Best Feature, San Diego Independent Film Festival, 1994

Elders (37:00 minutes)
Writer/Producer/Director of a 37-minute film for CONNECTIONS Project, California Department of Education. four retired African-American men, a postal clerk, a longshoreman, a meat packer, and a barber recall their lives, their successes, and struggles. Their fascinating stories are time capsules of twentieth-century North America, 1994.

Between Friends (28:00 minutes)
Writer/Director; a drama about AIDS for young teens. Produced for the San Francisco Department of Public Health, 1990. The program has screened across the country on PBS and commercial stations. The video is available from the Pacific Mountain Network. Gold Apple, National Educational Film Festival; 5 additional awards.

Dreams of Flying (28:00 minutes)
Writer/Producer/Director; drama; sponsored by California Department of Education; 1989; has aired across the country on PBS; and is available from the Pacific Mountain Network. Best Short Fiction Award, San Antonio Cinefestival; 5 awards.

There Goes the Neighborhood (56:00 minutes)
Writer/Director; documentary profiling foreign-born immigrants to Southern California; their impact on the cultural, political, and economic atmosphere. KCOP-13, Los Angeles; 1987.

Seguin (88:00 minutes)
Line Producer; dramatic recreation of the events prior to, and following the Battle of the Alamo, film aired as part of the PBS American Playhouse series, 1982; filmed on location in Texas, KCET- TV, Los Angeles; 1981.

The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County (28:00 minutes)
Producer; live-action and animated film, aired nationally by HBO, 6 awards; Learning Garden, Inc., Los Angeles; 1980.

Astronauts and Jelly Beans (12:00 minutes)
Producer; an animated film about the history of writing; narrated by Brock Peters; Learning Garden, Inc.; 11 awards; 1979.

Sickle Cell Fundamentals: The Molecular Biology of Hemoglobins (28:00 minutes)
Producer; NIH; Learning Garden, Inc.; 9 awards; 1979.

CBS Saturday Morning Television “Bumpers”
1978-1981, created and produced 5-second animated “bumpers” separating the program for commercials.


Speak Only of Cats: Playwright-in-Residence at the Mark Taper Forum, 1997-98, The Mark Taper Forum’s Latino Lab/New Theater Initiative commissioned a new play. Speak Only of Cats was the opening play for the Mark Taper Forum’s New Work Festival in December 1998.

Soldierboy (written with Judith Anne Perez) was developed while a Playwright-in-Residence with Luis Valdez and El Teatro Campesino. In November-December of 1982, Luis Valdez directed the premiere production of “Soldierboy.” The play continues to receive stagings at regional theaters and universities across the country.


(1984-87) Recipient of Artist in Communities grants from the California Arts Council.


(partial list)
Soldierboy has published in the anthology The Necessary Theater: Six Plays About The Chicano Experience; 1986, Arte Publico Press; University of Houston.
Texas Observer Nov. 25, 1995; review of Americo Paredes’ collection of short stories, Hammon and the Beans.
The Americas Review Vol.17, No.1, 1989; short story; “Lazy Eye.” San Antonio Light; 1989; essay; “Texas Myth-story and the Battle of the Alamo.”
Los Angeles Weekly 1987; article; “Visions and revisions of the Virgin of Guadalupe.”
Los Angeles Weekly 1987; article; “Dr. Mengele and NASA.”


B.A., University of Texas, Austin
Majors: American Literature and Contemporary History.

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