Characters / Stand and Deliver

The cast of characters in Stand and Deliver

Jaime Escalante
"All you need is ganas."
Played By: Edward James Olmos

He is based off real-life calculus teacher Jaime Escalante. Escalante is determined to teach inner-city students they are more than just a statistic through mathematics. He believes they have the potential to exceed expectations, all they need is ganas (desire). Over the course of the film, we see his dedication in educating his students and the positive impact it has on them. Although his students are accused of cheating because their scores seemed too perfect, they re-test and still get perfect scores.

  • Badass Bookworm: He performs a multiplication hand trick in response to Chuco flipping him the bird.
  • Cool Teacher: His students refer to him as 'Kemosabe.'
  • Deadpan Snarker: Starts the movie off really exploiting this trope, although it's lessened by the end. Often mixed with Dull Surprise.
  • Determinator: After being hospitalized for a heart attack and denied to continue working, he writes class notes on paper napkins and has a nurse smuggle them to his students so they can continue studying despite the incompetent substitute teacher.
  • Jerkass: Starts the movie off very cynical and mean-spirited. Claudia even calls him out on it.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Warms up to his students by the end, especially when he protects them from cheating accusations.
  • Papa Wolf: He is extremely protective of his students, particularly when they are accused of cheating by the ETS people.

Angel Guzman
"I need calculus to get me a good career, Johnny."
Played By: Lou Diamond Phillips

Angel is a member of the Maravilla gang who secretly possesses a natural gift for mathematics. Although he is shown to be a tough guy who doesn't take his education seriously in the beginning of the film, he has a desire to learn, evidenced by his multiple attempts in convincing Mr. Escalante to let him stay in his class. Toward the end of the film, it is revealed Angel is indeed gifted in the subject, for he received a 5 on his AP Calculus Exam - a perfect score.

Francisco "Pancho" Garcia
"Two years in the Union, and I'll be making more than you."
Played By: Will Gotay

Pancho is a young mechanic and one of the students who seems to struggle with calculus. Earlier in the film, he is shown to give up easily, nearly choosing a job at a forklift over his education, however, Escalante convinces him his education is the key to success and a good career. When Escalante returns to the school, after his heart attack, we see a change in Pancho's attitude toward his education, most notably when he correctly answers a problem he's been struggling with.

  • Annoying Laugh: When Angel makes his famous "decomposing in my locker" joke, Pancho laughs a grating laugh that lasts far longer than the joke's duration and enjoyability. It becomes cringe-worthy at one point.
  • Berserk Button: When Angel spits at him, when his car stops working, and when he is unable to solve a problem.

Claudia Camejo
"I'm doing this so I don't have to depend on some dumb guy the rest of my life."
Played By: Karla Montana

Claudia is what some would consider a "pretty girl." Most people seem to judge her based on her looks and social life, including Mr. Escalante who makes a snide remark to the class, but he soon apologizes. She possesses both brains and beauty and wants to be taken seriously. When trying to convince her mother to sign Mr. Escalante's permission slip we see Claudia's determination to get an education in this exchange:

Claudia's Mother: Boys don't like if you're too smart.
Claudia: Mom, I'm doing this so I don't have to depend on some dumb guy the rest of my life.

Guadalupe "Lupe" Escobar
"Don't call me gordita, pendejo."
Played By: Ingrid Oliu

Lupe is a fiery redhead who is one of Mr. Escalante's smartest students. In the beginning of the film, she didn't take her education very seriously, staging a protest, in which she and her classmates would refuse to take Escalante's quizzes, however, she was the only one who went through with it, which got her sent to the "chair." Later on, her attitude shifts, and she becomes the mother hen of the classroom.

Ana Delgado
"X equals Pedro’s girlfriends, 5X equals Juan’s girlfriends, X-1 equals Carlos’s girlfriends. X plus 5X plus X-1 equals 20, so X=3."
Played By: Vanessa Marquez

Ana is a shy, soft spoken girl who expresses an interest in mathematics, her first day of Mr. Escalante's class. She is almost forced to drop out of school because her father wants her to work in his restaurant, however, Mr. Escalante intervenes. The next day, not only does she return to school, but she solves a problem the students were struggling with (she didn't even read the board).

Armando "Tito" Guitaro
"I dreamed I was swimming with dolphins whispering imaginary numbers and searching for the fourth dimension."
Played By: Mark Eliot

Tito is a new-wave musician who is a "ladies man." He is often shown to have an easy-going personality, but still manages to do well in Mr. Escalante's class.

Javier Perales
"I was the first one here."
Played By: Patrick Baca

Javier is the know-it-all of the class. He's never gotten anything lower than a B-, and often expresses this to Mr. Escalante, when he receives a low grade. Like Ana, he enjoys mathematics, but can be boastful at times, which annoys a few of the students.

  • Teacher's Pet: Averted. Escalante doesn't show special treatment toward him.

Rafaela Fuentes
"Can you get negative girlfriends?"
Played By: Lydia Nicole

Rafaela is an immigrant who transferred to Escalante's class in the beginning of the movie. She is quiet, and is shown to hang out with Tito the majority of the film.

  • Tomboy: She dresses in masculine attire the majority of the film (over-sized shirts and pants), whereas the other three female characters dress more femininely.