A prolific American actor with Mexican roots, Emilio Rivera is most widely recognized for his recurring role on the FX drama "Sons of Anarchy" (2008- ). Raised in a rough neighborhood in Los Angeles, he discovered acting while still in elementary school and pursued it over the years, eventually winning small parts on various TV shows during the early 1990s. In 1997, Rivera appeared in the hit action movie "Con Air," starring Nicolas Cage, and continued to turn up in major productions, often as a Latino tough guy. After recurring roles on the short-lived "Kojak" reboot (USA, 2005) and "Weeds" (Showtime, 2005-2012), Rivera found his signature part on "Sons of Anarchy" and later graduated to a featured performance in the low-budget thriller "The Devil's in the Details" (2013). While not a household name, Rivera has proven himself as one of the prominent Mexican-American actors of his generation.
Born in San Antonio and later raised in Los Angeles, Rivera escaped the trappings of his hardscrabble inner-city upbringing by leaning towards performing. Finding employment as a mechanical engineer, he didn't land any screen roles until his early 30s, when he had a one-off spot on the action show "Renegade" (USA, 1992-97), starring Lorenzo Lamas. Following a small part in the Latino-themed saga "My Family" (1995), featuring Edward James Olmos, Rivera was cast in the explosive blockbuster "Con Air" and acting opportunities soon became more available.
After a supporting role in the feature comedy "Ali G Indahouse" (2002), Rivera appeared in the quirky directorial debut of George Clooney, "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind" (2002), as well as the hard-hitting action movie "A Man Apart" (2003), starring Vin Diesel. While staying active in films, he started to find more developed roles on television, notably on the drug-tinged dramedy "Weeds," where he played the intimidating El Coyote. In 2008, Rivera joined the cast of the scrappy biker-themed show "Sons of Anarchy," portraying Marcus Álvarez, leader of the gang known as the Mayans. Finally in a part that allowed him to display greaters nuances, he built on this ongoing success by co-starring in the crime drama "The Devil's in the Details" with Ray Liotta.