Hall of Fame UC Irvine Engineering 2019
** = for S.T.E.A.M. equity & justice advocacy
1997 Tall Club of Silicon Valley High School Scholarship Recipient.
1997 Santa Clara High School (Santa Clara, CA) Class Valedictorian.
Former U.S. Space Camp California Counselor & Simulated Space Shuttle Mission Director.
B.S. Mechanical Engineering & B.S. Aerospace Engineering from Campuswide Honors Program at
University of California, Irvine (UC Irvine) .
NASA-related Senior Honors Thesis- "Flight Mechanics Technology Development for Reusable Launch Vehicles".
2002 UC Irvine Homecoming King.
2002 UC Irvine Student Commencement Speaker for the Henry Samueli School of Engineering.
Self-written Commencement Speech entitled, "Where Are All The Flying Cars?".
Ravi Valleti was born (as Ravikanth Gudlavalleti) in Hyderabad, India to Telugu Indian parents. Soon after, at 6 months in age, Valleti emigrated with his mother and father to Waterloo, Ontario, Canada when his father became an Associate Professor of Materials & Electrical Engineering at the University of Waterloo. At age 3, Valleti and his parents moved to Orono, Maine, U.S.A. as his father had advanced to Professor of Electrical Engineering at the University of Maine.
It was in Maine where Valleti watched Star Trek: The Original Series for the first time, learning that he had been born 13 years to the date after the first NBC airing of “The Man Trap.” The series inspired Valleti to pursue both science and acting. As a child of Indian immigrant parents, rare in 1980s Maine, Valleti related strongly with the character of Spock as “a child of two worlds.” The strong yet vulnerable, logical yet empathetic portrayal by Leonard Nimoy has had a lasting impact on Valleti, who was honored to be able to display a “Vulcan Hand Salute” toward Nimoy during production on the 2009 Star Trek.
On January 28, 1986 Valleti watched the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster live on his 1st grade classroom television in Bangor, Maine. In spite of the tragedy, Valleti was inspired by the brave Challenger crew's pursuit of space and of the future. Fellow New Englander, the late Christa McAuliffe, the first teacher in space, emboldened further Valleti's early futurist vision.
It was also in Maine where Valleti’s sister, Rajani was born. She currently runs Rajani Gudlavalleti Consulting in Baltimore, Maryland for Youth & Community Programs.
In 1987, at age 7.5, Valleti, his sister, and their parents moved across North America to Santa Clara, California. These siblings still consider Santa Clara their hometown. Going from one of the least ethnically diverse states to the most diverse one further motivated and challenged Valleti’s early humanist inquiries and study, and sense of self. Particularly Valleti’s living for the first time near many other fellow members of the Telugu Indian diaspora, in the Silicon Valley region of the San Francisco Bay Area.
In connection with Bay Area Telugu Association and Telugu Association of North America, Valleti made his professional acting debut at age 9 in an English-language stage production of “Nachiketa” in the title role. Based on ancient Hindu philosophy, Nachiketa asks Yama (Hindu god of death, played by Valleti’s father) about the meaning of life, but the boy waits patiently for 3 days outside the gates of Yama’s palace before being granted an audience.
After stints playing baseball and basketball, Valleti returned to acting at Santa Clara High School, from which he graduated in 1997. That year, he played “Chief Bromden” in the school's production of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest” by school drama director Monica Stoffal.
The interdisciplinary Campuswide Honors Program at the University of California, Irvine was the next destination for Valleti. While working toward his senior honors thesis on NASA-related research entitled “Flight Mechanics Technology Development for Reusable Launch Vehicles,” he spent two summers at the former U.S. Space Camp California as a Team Counselor and Simulated Space Shuttle Mission Director.
In March 2001, while visiting his family in the SF Bay Area for part of his UCI spring break, Valleti was proudly naturalized as a Citizen of the United States of America with his childhood family friend, Vikas Pokala. His new U.S. citizenship would take on even more poignancy a few months later on September 11, 2001. If Valleti were asked by any current politician, he does have his original Certificate of Naturalization as proof of his U.S.A. citizenship.
Returning to UC Irvine for his final undergraduate year, Valleti would write and deliver the commencement speech at his graduation entitled "Where Are All The Flying Cars?". That day in 2002 he earned his double B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and Aerospace Engineering.
Health, financial, and relationship crises for his parents, soon after Valleti’s graduation, led him to return to the San Francisco Bay Area as his family’s caregiver and leader. While coping with family and personal trauma, Valleti became disillusioned with the shift away from space research toward defense in the post-9/11 United States Aerospace industry. Not wanting to use his academic degrees and skills for an Iraq War that Valleti questioned, and frustrated by a decline in space program funding after the destruction of Space Shuttle Columbia in 2003, Valleti transitioned through a few months of retail work at his hometown shopping mall to a Mechanical Engineering consulting position, one that balanced with his values yet didn’t connect with his need to express art, and explore contemporary and futurist themes.
In late 2004, a chance acting connection with the filmmaker Sunny Menon, through friend and 2002 Miss Indo-Fiji Priscilla Nand (née Solanki), began a formal reconnection to the arts for Valleti. This time, in adulthood. In 2007, Valleti collaborated with several other actors and Menon on Menon’s “Next Round,” which would premiere at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival Short Film Corner.
During his mid-20s, Valleti quit his Mechanical Engineering position, began to perform in student films, and setup a freelance K-12 private tutoring consultancy to teach various subjects. Valleti started to find that both acting and teaching called upon the wide-ranging interdisciplinary studies he had been interested in since childhood, and that he had cultivated at UC Irvine’s Campuswide Honors Program.
In late 2007, childhood friends of Valleti named Lamar Goddard, Cuong Tran, & Mor Mezrich (of Ears & Gears Recording NYC) informed and encouraged Valleti to drive to the Los Angeles area to enter an open casting call that would lead to Valleti’s Starfleet Cadet role in the new J.J. Abrams feature film Star Trek. During production and while Valleti worked in the Los Angeles area, Valleti’s sister Rajani served as primary caregiver for their parents while she worked for Silicon Valley Community Foundation after earning her B.A. in Sociology from Willamette University.
Valleti would make his major studio film debut in in 2009 in the comedy 17 Again, released a month before Star Trek.
His time on these Hollywood feature films, and new insight from award-winning LA acting coach, Kimberly Jentzen, drove Valleti to deepen his actor training and better hone his craft. In fall 2009, supporting his sister’s starting a Masters in Public Policy program at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Valleti saw that he could focus his actor training in the San Francisco Bay Area in order to help complete his parents’ transitions toward a healthier, more peaceful paradigm for Valleti’s family. And for the actor himself.
In late 2009, esteemed actor, Jeffrey Weissman from Back to the Future II & III, welcomed Valleti into the San Francisco Professional Actors Studio at the San Francisco School of Digital Filmmaking. Valleti soon took on new, independent film roles, and met the love of his life- writer and actress Nima Slone in April 2010 through an introduction by Martin A David, an actor Valleti had worked with on “Next Round” and who had acted with Slone in a March 2010 San Francisco stage production of “Golden Boy.”
Through the first half of the 2010’s, Valleti varied his acting and improv training at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, VoiceOne SF, and with other acclaimed acting coaches as Darcy Marta, Dennis Sakamoto, and Stan Roth. Valleti continued to perform in independent films. Among his short films of that period, Valleti highlights “Code Orange” (by Robbie Gomez) made in October 2010, in which he plays a reformed former terrorist-prisoner turned ally of the United States Army. Also that month, a stint on stage for Valleti reunited him with “Next Round” colleague Liz Anderson who directed Valleti in the short comedic play “Necromance,”written by Bridgette Dutta Portman for the 2010 San Francisco Quickies Festival. Advancing the scope of his indie film work in July 2011, “Dandelion Pie” (by S. Scarlet Wilde) starred Valleti and his partner Nima Slone as lovers whose relationship schisms yet their bond remains.
In Summer 2012, Valleti began one his most significant and continuing artistic collaborations with award-winning filmmaker and creator of the Direct Action film movement, Rob Nilsson and Citizen Cinema. Through an introduction by Vincent Leddy & Celik Kayalar (Founder of Film Acting Bay Area), Valleti was cast in Nilsson’s feature film “A Leap to Take” as enigmatic, Indian-American tantric cult leader “Govinda.” Valleti and Nilsson co-created the “Govinda” character through an interplay between script, backstory creation, and improv in the vein of Direct Action. “Govinda” provided a conduit to express some of the enlightenment and concerns the secular humanist Valleti had pondered in the months since his December 2011 trip to India with his sister, Rajani- their first visit to India as adults to again meet extended family and tour the country. Shot entirely in one night in late August 2012, “A Leap to Take” was the most challenging acting responsibility Valleti had yet undertaken.
“A Leap to Take” would make its world premiere at the 2013 Moscow International Film Festival, and now is available for streaming on Fandor.
Valleti re-joined Nilsson on “A Bridge to a Border,” Nilsson’s next feature film, one in which Valleti would explore a more naïve, yet politically subversive character as disillusioned psychiatrist “Dr. Ray Satyajit” (the name an homage to legendary Indian filmmaker Satyajit Ray). The prison industrial-complex, terrorism, social and economic inequality, and personal freedoms would be questioned and explored in this Direct Action film.
“A Bridge to a Border” made its world premiere at the 2014 Mill Valley Film Festival with same-day debut on Fandor.
Soon after MVFF 2014, a Star Trek connection for Valleti led to an interview with AXS Examiner Entertainment journalist Ed Moy. Valleti worked with Moy in 2009 Star Trek when Moy, also a filmmaker and actor, portrayed a “Starfleet Academy Instructor” for Valleti’s “Cadet.”
With garnered attention from “A Leap to Take” and “A Bridge to a Border,” playing a different, more confident and satisfied psychiatrist in the character of “Dr. Williams,” Valleti was cast in the short film “happyangrysad” by Dave Brown, who wrote the film’s script based loosely on Brown’s own struggles with bipolar disorder. Shot in February 2015 in Oakland and Walnut Creek, CA, Valleti worked opposite filmmaker and actor Deniz Demirer who played a troubled patient of “Dr. Williams.” “happyangrysad” has since screened at the 2015 California Independent Film Festival and at 2015 Visionaria International Film Festival in Siena, Italy.
In March 2015, Valleti reunited with Deniz Demirer and Rob Nilsson on the ambitious, independent Direct Action science-fiction feature film “Devised” from Meets the Eye Studios. Valleti co-creates and portrays “Othello Khan, Esquire” a Wall Street attorney assigned by the studio of a film-within-the-film that explores themes related to divorce- in relationships, from self, from and toward new technology. Although out of his New York City element, “Othello Khan” immediately asserts a hidden agenda over the divorce film’s production by attempting to manipulate its producers, crew, and director “Lovis,” played by Demirer.
“Devised” aims toward a release soon.
Further blending and utilizing Valleti as futurist artist, Valleti collaborated with multimedia artist, interdisciplinary playwright, and musician Jon Bernson on Bernson’s “Antiprism: Exploring the Vessel XII Controversy” in April 2015 at de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park San Francisco. Valleti as “Dr. Jonah Samadhi,” proponent of the Universal Sound Theory of Vessel XII presented and debated in three Distant Future Symposiums at de Young Museum, opposing in particular Valleti’s partner Nima Slone as “Dr. Lorraine Curtis,” proponent of the Signal Intrusion Theory of Vessel XII.
In February 2016, Valleti and Slone reprised their roles in a filmed version of a Antiprism called "Distant Future Symposium," as Jon Bernson plans to expand access to the Vessel XII files worldwide.
Valleti participated in the documentary “Are we Dancer?” by filmmaker and contemporary dance choreographer Rachel Silveria, Founder & Director of The Mindful Movement Project. Along with a small group of artists, Valleti, as himself, explores the self as a human construct, mind-body connectedness, and healing from physical damage and emotional trauma. For Valleti himself, this entails an exploration of how he is starting to view himself, personally and artistically, after the physical injuries and emotional struggles that he had endured during his prior family caregiver years into a happier, healthier present.
Valleti had, in June 2015 on the 10th anniversary of his leaving engineering for acting, expressed publicly on his social media his gratitude, pride, and forgiveness of his parents and to declare the start of a positive new era for him and his family.
The actor/futurist also credits his medical specialists Dr. Selina Shah at Center for Sports Medicine in Walnut Creek, CA and Dr. Deanna Lintag Mekata at Health Summit Physical Therapy in Sunnyvale, CA for their work helping him physically rehabilitate and strengthen his body. Valleti gratefully utilizes these doctors per his Covered California medical insurance through the Affordable Care Act.
Valleti plays "Vik" in Daniel Kremer's feature film "Overwhelm the Sky," released in 2019.
"Rocket Scientist" - Valleti's debut book, his Posthuman Memoir is in development.