Martin Sheen speaks for UD
by Teri Rizvi
"Are we having any luck with this?" a familiar voice broke the spell.
"We're gulping," answered film director Ron Hamad, clearly moved as he wrapped up a 90-minute recording session with Ramon
Better known by his film name Martin Sheen, Estevez loaned his voice -- what Hamad described as "a deep, quiet inner voice"
-- to a nearly five-minute image film about the University of Dayton that will be shown to donors at presidential roundtable
discussions in the spring.
Estevez, a Dayton native who never lost touch with his hometown after he became a celebrity, didn't rush into the Indigo
Ranch studio in Malibu and race through the script, even though he started the session by asking, "Want to record one in case
we get lucky?"
Instead, he patiently offered to record dozens of versions in an effort to capture the cadence of a piece designed to inspire
alumni to answer "the call to lead" and support UD's aspirations for the 21st century.
"I want to feel like you're talking to me and I'm spellbound by you," Hamad told the actor, who connected with the words
in a way that showed both the range of his acting ability and an understanding of the Marianist educational tradition, which
calls people to use their education to make a difference in the lives of others. As he slowly delivered the words, the script's
poetry leapt to life:
"This is how we connect to each other, what we give to the world.
to a fine commitment of the spirit.
This is why our dreams of the future are actual,
what you dream matters.
We've always known this.
Change that makes a real future
rises from the value of being connected. . .
This is who we are,
Members of one
family called to act in service
To each human life
service to the world."
Enveloped by the richness of his voice, the listeners grew quiet, caught in the spell of a masterful delivery. Two thousand
miles away, he mistook the silence for discomfort. At one point, he said apologetically, "I do tend to get complacent and
fall in love with my voice. The problem with me is that I get locked into something and fall in love with it and can't let
Not a startling confession from a man who is passionate about the causes he believes in. He calls himself a "Christian
activist" and has never been afraid to either sleep outside to demonstrate solidarity with the homeless or get himself arrested
for blocking the entrance of a company that conducts research into nuclear weapons. He agreed to provide the voiceover for
UD's film in exchange for a small donation to the San Carlos Foundation, which provides health and educational assistance
to refugees and others in the Third World, particularly Central America. Professionals -- doctors, nurses, lawyers, engineers
and teachers -- earn a $6,000 annual stipend to live in primitive conditions among the people they're working with and train
them to take over their jobs when they leave. Estevez, who's on the board of directors, helped start the foundation in 1983.
One of 10 children from a Catholic immigrant family who grew up on Brown Street in the shadows of UD, Estevez said his
father wanted him to continue his education at UD after graduation from Chaminade High School. "I think it's a matter of record
there that I had the lowest score on record on my (college) entrance exams," he said with a laugh at the end of the taping.
"I wanted to go to New York."
Although he conceded he was "intrigued" by the lyrical nature of the script, why did he bother to take the time to furnish
his easily recognizable voice to UD's film?
"I confess to a fondness for Dayton. It's my hometown. I was educated by the Marianists at Chaminade, and when I was growing
up, UD was the only university in town."
This page, http://www.udayton.edu/udq/connections/sheen.html,
first posted on November 25, 1997,
modified on November 25, 1997,
From the Univ of Dayton archives at www.udayton.edu