After taking an elbow to the chin that nearly broke his jaw, the physically imposing Raymond Tostado shook it off, regained his ability to speak and prepared for round two.

Tostado isn’t an MMA fighter going toe-to-toe for a championship. He’s a local actor who was filming a scene for the 2011 horror film, “Penumbra.”

“What I love is the action. I like to do action thriller films,” Tostado says. “But accidents can happen. I train and keep in shape, but it’s hectic. It’s worth it, though. Pain is temporary, film is forever.”

Tostado has also appeared in the zombie invasion film, “The Lotus,” and “El Guey,” where he plays the titular luchador, (a professional Mexican wrestler). The latter film was his first, and by a twist of fate, he landed the starring role after auditioning for a lesser part.

He also plays the leader of a sex trafficking cartel, alongside Tim Sizemore (“Natural Born Killers,” “Saving Private Ryan”) in the upcoming film, “The Runners.”

And while acting is his passion now, it wasn’t always that way.

Tostado graduated from Hanford High School in 1983, having never taken a drama class.

“At the time, I didn’t want to go to drama. I wanted to go to Hollywood,” he said.

He was a self-described show off with aspirations to be James Dean, but without structure or focus, his Hollywood aspirations didn’t amount to much after school.

“On the streets of Hanford, I wasn’t a very good guy, if you know what I’m saying,” he says. “I wanted to follow my dreams and I’d sit and wonder ‘how can I do the things I want to do in life when my situation will never allow me to do it.’ ”  

It wasn’t until he met his current girlfriend, Isabel Contreras, that he got serious about a career in entertainment. She persuaded him to finally get into acting after the two hit it off and moved to her hometown of Dallas together.

“I kind of took it the wrong way, like it was challenging my manhood or something,” Tostado laughs. “How can I become an actor if we’re in Texas? This isn’t Hollywood.”

Little did he know about the burgeoning film industry in the Lone Star State, but after making a connection with a talent agency, he quickly found out.

Texas has become a hot bed for the entertainment industry in recent years. The SXSW Film Festival, an annual celebration of all things cinematic which drew over 70,000 fans to Austin last year. Texas is also home to two innovators of independent film, Richard Linklater and Robert Rodriguez.

Rodriguez opened doors for Mexican-American film makers with his wildly successful “El Mariachi” and “Spy Kids” movies, as well as his ground-breaking collaborations with Quentin Tarantino. His films have also helped make Danny Trejo a household name.

“Danny Trejo is good people,” Tostado said.

The actor worked with Trejo on the set of the Rodriguez-produced “Machete Kills,” where he was a featured extra, cast in the role of a henchman, working for  a villain played by Mel Gibson.

Tostado was recently honored for giving to up-and-coming film makers in his own way.

Tostado met the founder of the Equality International Film Festival, Wanyee Leonard, through his cousin, and the two discussed potential collaborations almost immediately.

The Sacramento-based festival showcases the work of artists that cast a light on social and economic inequality. It also helps those projects find distribution.

Tostado was awarded the festival’s producer award in October.

Currently working out of his home base here in Hanford, Tostado is currently working on multiple projects connected to the festival as a producer, including a short film, a feature film and a football-centric Web series entitled, “Possession.”

“I decided to help fund these projects. The theme is ‘equality,’ and being Hispanic, I wanted to help my people out,” Tostado says. “Sometimes we need a little help. We need someone in there who can help. And if I can get in as a producer, I can have a say in how it turns out.”

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