Entertainment

It’s 2019 And Hollywood Finally Awarded An Oscar To A Native American For The First Time

In 1973, Marlon Brando famously declined his Oscar for his role in “The Godfather,” to take a stance against Hollywood’s treatment of Native Americans. Actor and activist, Sacheen Littlefeather famously went on stage to refuse the award on Brando’s behalf at the ceremony. It’s only taken a mere 46 years since that day, but this year, a Native American actor finally received the recognition he deserves and was awarded an Oscar for his talent. 

Hollywood’s complicated relationship with Native Americans goes back to the industry’s earliest movies set in the Wild West.

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Sacheen Littlefeather respectfully declining an Oscar on behalf of Marlon Brando, 1973. He was nominated for his role in The Godfather. He declined the award because of the unfair treatment of Native Americans in the film industry. Sacheen, president of the National Native American Affirmative Image Committee, was sent in his place to adress the problems going on, why Brando declined the award and delivered a beautiful speech. Marlon Brando: “I don’t think that people generally realise what the motion picture industry has done to the American Indian, as a matter of fact, all ethnic groups, all minorities, all non-whites. And people just simply don’t realise, just take it for granted that that’s the way people are going to be presented and these clichés are just, I mean on this network every night, well perhaps not every night, but you can see silly renditions of human behaviour, the leering Filipino houseboy, the wily Japanese, the kook or the gook, black man, stupid Indian. It just goes on and on. And people actually don’t realise how deeply people are injured by seeing themselves represented, not so much the adults, who are already injured to that kind of pain and pressure, but children. Indian children seeing Indians represented as savage, ugly, as nasty, viscous, treacherous, drunken. They grow up only with a negative image of themselves and it lasts a lifetime.”

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Nearly 50 years ago, Marlon Brando decided to make good use of his privileged position to decline the Academy Award as a way to protest the mistreatment of Native American actors in the film industry. When Sacheen Littlefeather came to deliver the speech, she told the listeners of the program about the racially-based aggression she experienced including how actor John Wayne was held back by security because he was outraged by Littlefeather. 

It only took Hollywood nearly 50 years, but this weekend, the Academy finally recognized the first Native American actor with an award.

Credit: siouxpergirl92 / Instagram

During Sunday’s Governors Awards, a special ceremony that hands out honorary Oscars for lifetime achievement and humanitarian causes, the Native American actor and Vietnam war veteran was given an honorary award for career achievement. 

Wes Studi’s career has spanned nearly 30 years and it hasn’t always been easy.

Credit: united_historians / Instagram

Studi, a Vietnam War veteran who was an advocate for Native American issues before he pursued a career as an actor, first appeared in a small role in Kevin Costner’s “Dances With Wolves,” but made a searing impression as the villain Magua in Michael Mann’s 1992 epic “The Last of the Mohicans.” His casting as the leading character in Walter Hill’s “Geronimo: An American Legend” (1993) was a milestone for Hollywood —some studios at the time demanded that Hill cast a white actor in the lead role. 

Though Studi was featured in many films, he had never been nominated for an award over the course of his career.

Credit: siouxpergirl92 / Instagram

Though Studi has featured in many projects centered on Native American history (“Into the West,” “The New World,” “Hostiles”), he has also been one of Hollywood’s most reliable and memorable character actors for a generation, with a varied portfolio of work, including a role as a grizzled cop in “Heat” (1995), a mysterious superhero in “Mystery Men” (1999), and an alien patriarch in “Avatar” (2009). Studi, who this weekend became the first Native American actor to win an Oscar, had never even been nominated over the course of his long career. 

Christian Bale, who presented Studi with the award, put a finer point on the issue and called out all the people in the room.

“Too few opportunities in film have gone to Native or indigenous artists, and we’re a room full of people who can change that,” said Christian Bale, Studi’s Hostiles co-star, who presented him with the Oscar. “I’d simply like to say, it’s about time,” said Studi, who delivered much of his speech in Cherokee. “It’s been a wild and wonderful ride, and I’m really proud to be here tonight as the first indigenous Native American to receive an Academy Award. It’s a humbling honor to receive an award for something I love to do.”

The Governor Awards were ideated as a standalone ceremony —separate from the Oscars, to create a free space for winners and presenters to speak and be celebrated with no time restraints.

Credit: www.oscars.org

The honorary Oscar used to be given out as part of the main ceremony. It was a stately portion of the broadcast that required a long introduction, a grand video montage of the honoree’s work, and usually a rambling speech from the winner. In 2009, concerns about long-running times led to the creation of the Governors Awards, a non-televised ceremony held at the Grand Ballroom of the Hollywood and Highland Center.

Taking the special awards out of the hugely televised ceremony —and the hands of aggrieved network-TV executives— has actually been a benefit for the Oscars, lending the Governors Awards their own atmosphere of genuine acclaim where the winners and presenters can speak a little more candidly and without commercially motivated time restrictions.

Meanwhile, fellow honorees Lina Wertmüller and Geena Davis called for gender parity in Hollywood.

Credit: www.oscars.org

“She would like to change the Oscar to a feminine name,” Isabella Rossellini said, translating Italian director Lina Wertmüller’s acceptance speech for her honorary Oscar. “She would like to call it ‘Anna.’ Women in the room, please scream, ‘We want Anna, a female Oscar!’”

Wertmüller’s speech was the capstone of a night devoted to upending some of Hollywood’s most exclusionary traditions and celebrating some of its outsiders. Not only was Studi the first Native American to be recognized by the Academy, but Lina Wertmüller became the first woman ever to receive a best director Oscar nomination when she was recognized for 1976’s Seven Beauties.

“How do you correct centuries of patriarchal domination?” the screenwriter, producer, and director, Jane Campion asked. “It started with Lina Wertmüller.” 

Credit: @ScottFeinberg / Twitter

Campion, together with Little Women director Greta Gerwig, spoke on the history of women nominated for best director by the Academy. “It’s a very short history, more of a haiku,” Campion said, noting that 350 men have been nominated for best director, versus five for women —including herself and Gerwig, who called Wertmüller “a godmother to us all.”

‘Thelma and Louise’ star Geena Davis called out the industry on the very few opportunities of empowerment given to women.

Credit: www.oscars.org

Also during the black-tie dinner, Geena Davis, became the 39th recipient of the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, which celebrates “outstanding contributions to humanitarian causes” for building upon her acting career in films like “The Accidental Tourist,” “Beetlejuice,” “Thelma & Louise,” and “A League of Their Own” to become an advocate for gender equality in media.

Davis delivered a version of the gender-parity pitch she has made in recent years, speaking this time to the industry group gathered in the Dolby Ballroom. “Thelma and Louise made me realize how few opportunities we give women to come out of a movie feeling excited and empowered by the female characters,” Davis said. “The message we are sending is that men and boys are far more valuable to us than women and girls. Whatever you’re working on right now, boost the number of female characters…and then, cast me!”

Each year there is a lot of debate over who should receive these Honorary Oscars, as well as the Hersholt and the Irving J. Thalberg Memorial Award (which was not given this year). Governors come prepared to the meeting to advocate for their choices and a well-researched and delivered presentation can make a big difference. Afterward, candidates must receive a certain threshold of votes. No matter the process, one can’t argue that the achievements of this group of filmmakers meet the criteria of what appeared to be the prevailing sentiment at the Governors Awards—that the event was a chance to right past wrongs, to fill in the many gaps of Academy history, and all we can say is; at long last.

READ: “Roma” Wins Three Oscars At The 2019 Academy Awards

Remembering All Of The TV Latino Crushes You Had In The 90s Will Save You During This Time

Entertainment

Remembering All Of The TV Latino Crushes You Had In The 90s Will Save You During This Time

@arturodraws / Twitter

If you grew up in the 90s, you’re aware of how different TV looks today vs. back in the day. In an era packed with so many Latina stars like Gina Rodriguez, Sofia Vergara, Selena Gomez, and Jennifer Lopez it’s kind of weird to look back and remember how absent such faces were almost two decades ago. Why? Because straight up: flipping on the TV and finding Latino TV and movie characters was quite a rarity in the 90s. Fortunately, there were a few characters around to shape our understanding of what it meant to be Latino in our youth.

Here’s to the trendy, geeky, rebellious Latino TV and movie characters who gave us strange new feelings, nuanced understandings of sexuality, and brought a bit more color to whitewashed screens.

1. Benny ‘The Jet’ Rodriguez  from “The Sandlot”

Latino TV
20th Century Fox

Okay, hold up. First. Just look at those eyes^^^^^^^

There’s no denying that this brown-eyed heartthrob had a huge influence in the spark of your sexual awakening. Not only was Benny the cutest guy on the team, he also shined through as the team’s star player and went on to the Dodgers. All this despite the times and the white suburban neighborhood he lived in. 100% Benny is an inspiration and credit to Latinos who knock their dreams out of the park. Seriously, get yourself a major leaguer like this guy.

2. Sam Swoboda from “P.U.N.K.S.”

Disney

Jessica Alba’s character, Sam, was one mean girl in this flick about a group of bullied teens aiming to shut down a corrupted company. For those of us who had a limited view of the parameters of what Latina could be, Sam’s character was a massive wakeup call. Sure, makeup and dresses can be our thing, but Sam taught us that we could get down and dirty right next to the boys. Even better we could run the show and be leaders of the pack.

3. Rickie Vasquez  from “My So-Called Life”

ABC

It all seems like yesterday, but looking back at the 90s its hard not to flinch at the reminders of how rampant negative portrayals of Latino characters and homosexuals was. And yet, a positive representation of the LGBT community unexpectedly emerged on a little teen drama called “My So-Called Life.” Rickie Vasquez. He rocked a mean eyeliner, used the girls’ bathroom as a safe haven, and kept his friends in check while remaining fiercely loyal to them. Rickie was a massive launching pad for TV’s understanding of sexual fluidity that the 90s desperately needed.

4. Ruby from “Kids”

Netflix

There’s no way Mima let you watch this film while you were a kid in the 90s. Bets are that you watched this with one eye on the door and a finger ready to hit “last.” Ruby (played by Cuban Puertorriqueña, Rosario Dawson) was the ringleader of a group of sexually active teenage girls doing quite a lot a little too soon. While Ruby didn’t always shine as a beacon of sexual responsibility, she did open our eyes to dark realities to come in our teen years.

5. A.C. Slater from “Saved by the Bell”

NBC

Muscles ― lo siento, Mario ― Mario Lopez portrayed U.S. Army Brat A.C. Slater and took things to a next level for us (sexuality wise) after Benny Rodriguez. One peck ripple from A.C. and there’s no questioning what stripped us of the remainder of our Latina youth. And still, despite A.C’s heritage never being a thing in the early days of SBTB (though, there is an entire episode dedicated to Slater discovering his Chicano identity in “The College Years”) we all knew what was up. Besides Lisa Turtle, A.C. was one of the few people of color portrayed on the show which was a big deal considering how massive the show was. It always felt good knowing that we could flip on the TV and see someone who looked like us. LBR, especially one that was so guapo.

6. Ashley Banks from “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”

Warner Bros. Television Distribution

Ashley Banks herself might not have been a Latina character, but Tatyana M. Ali whose parents are Trinidadian and Panamanian identifies herself as Afro-Latina. As a non-Latina character on the show, there’s no doubt Ashely still had some influence on us as kids. She was a smart, beautiful and witty girl of color and TV was missing quite a bit of that. While initially, young Ashley did her best to model her dope older cousin Will, it wasn’t long before she began to grow into her own. She developed her own taste in music and fashion all while pushing against the tight reins of father Phil. In short, she became the ultimate #rebelforindepence goals.

7. Selena Quintanilla from “Selena”

Warner Bros.

Of course, Selena tops this list (she will never stop topping lists and don’t you ever forget that). Selena is, was, has, and always will be the ultimate on-screen big older sister for Latinas everywhere. Ask any Latina who grew up in the 90s which female character inspired her the most as a woman and find us a gal who doesn’t name Selena. That’s because she taught all about the washing machine, the power of will, grace, and how bras could moonlight as bustiers. For that, everyone should be incredibly grateful.

8. Taina Morales from “Taina”

Nickelodeon

“I know I can’t wait to see my name in lights. No one’s gonna stop me, you’ll see,” went the theme song to the Nickelodeon hit series Taina. The two-season show was about a young Latina, played by Puerto Rican actress Christina Vidal, growing up in Queens, New York who had dreams of becoming a star. With her determination and dedication, we watched her try to make it to the top and conquer her superstardom in high school. The Nuyorican teen showed us what growing up Latina was all about. In Taina, we saw a girl like us, someone hoping for the perfect quinceañera, gushing over crushes, struggling to write in Spanish, trying to understand the African, indigenous and Spaniard influence on Latinx culture and relatives who always worked to instill Boricua pride. She stayed true to her heritage while never giving up on her dreams, and we needed to see that.

9. Channel Simmons from “The Cheetah Girls”

Disney

Over on the Disney Channel, Channel “Chuchie” Simmons brought all the Latina flavor to the hit TV film “The Cheetah Girls.” The movie is about four New York teenagers who are trying to get their music group to go big time. Chuchie, played by Puerto Rican-Ecuadorian singer-actress-host Adrienne Bailon, particularly embraced her Latina culture in the second film, when the girls visited Spain, but she was relatable to all young viewers. While juggling friendship problems, her mom’s dating life and trying to make it to the top, she was never afraid to speak her mind, just like the Latinas we know and love in our real lives. Even through the Cheetahlicious breakups (because there were many), she remained strong and held the group together.

10. Miranda Sanchez from “Lizzie McGuire”

Disney

Lizzie McGuire’s right-hand girl was BFF goals: loyal, funny and always stylish — oh, and she’s mexicana. In the hit series, Miranda Sanchez, portrayed by Filipino-American actress Lalaine Vergara-Paras, celebrated Day of the Dead, a Mexican tradition showing her character getting in touch with her roots, and spoke Spanish. Miranda always had a unique fashion sense and bold hair styles in every episode, which is part of what made her character so interesting. She embraced sisterhood and friendship, making her the best friend many young girls wished to have in real life.

11. Alex Russo from “Wizards of Waverly Place”

Disney

Mexican-Italian Alex Russo, played by Selena Gomez, was the protagonist of Wizards of Waverly Place, a Disney Channel series about siblings whose parents were teaching them how to master their wizardry. Alex, a New York-based high schooler, had a very strong personality and bold attitude. The series was one of the first to portray a biracial Latina lead, showing the teen struggling to speak Spanish and embracing her mother’s traditions by having a quinceañera. As more Latinas intermarry, this representation is ever more imperative.

12. LaCienega Boulevardez from “The Proud Family”

Disney

Also on the Disney Channel was Lacienega Boulevardez, an Afro-Latina character on the cartoon The Proud Family. Voiced by dominicana Alisa Reyes, Boulevardez wasn’t always the nicest. She was the frenemy and neighbor of Penny Proud, the protagonist of the show. But with her name and bold personality, there is no forgetting her. She was vital because she was one of the first representations of a Black Latina, allowing many young viewers to be able to say, “she looks just like me.”

13. Carmen Cortez from “Spy Kids”

Dimension Films

Carmen Cortez was the definition of a badass Latina! The lead in ”Spy Kids,” a film about young siblings who become spies in attempt to save their parents, her strength and courage were important to display on-screen, not just for young Latinas but rather for girls everywhere. Played by colombiana Alexa PenaVega, Carmen was a strong, fearless and outspoken girl who cared immensely about her family and always fought for what she believed in. In 2001, when “Spy Kids” released, we didn’t see many females, let alone young girls, portrayed in media as brave leaders. It hasn’t been until recently, with shows and films like Scandal, How to Get Away With Murder, ”Black Panther,” ”Hidden Figures” and, for the youngsters, Elena of Avalor, that we are beginning to see strong and intelligent women of color being represented in the media, so “Spy Kids” offering this representation was major.

14. Betty Suarez from “Ugly Betty”

“Ugly Betty” /ABC

Betty Suarez was not portrayed as the stereotypical Latina. Her character, played by Honduran-American actress America Ferrera, wasn’t seen as the ideal beauty standard. Typically, Latinas are depicted as sexy, curvy, spicy and sassy women. But Ugly Betty, an ABC series about a smart and hardworking Latina from Queens, New York who lands a job as an assistant for a major fashion magazine, showed young Latinas a different kind of beauty. Betty wasn’t just focused on her looks but was goal-driven and determined to break into media, which she did — even though she dealt with tons of ups and downs along the way. She was unapologetically herself, a trait that every young Latina needed to see.

15. Lorena Garcia from “The Brothers García”

Nickelodeon

The Brothers García, a Nickelodeon series about a Mexican-American family growing up in San Antonio, Texas, was centered on boys, but Lorena, the sole sister and a twin, stood out. Being the only girl in her family, she had a lot to prove. Played by Puerto Rican-German-Russian actress Vaneza Pitynski, she did just about everything to get her parents’ attention in a home filled with boys — something anyone of us who grew up with brothers knows all about.

16. Tori Vega from “Victorious”

Nickelodeon

“You don’t have to be afraid to put your dream in action. You’re never gonna fade. You’ll be the main attraction. Not a fantasy, just remember me, when it turns out right,” goes the score for Nickelodeon’s Victorious, a series about a Latina teen who attends a performing arts school. Tori Vega, played by the part-Puerto Rican Victoria Justice, was a character that many young girls could relate to — or aspire to be. She was determined, strong-minded and confident in chasing her dream of becoming a singer while helping her friends achieve their own goals along the way.

17. The entire cast from “East Los High”

Hulu

Starring Danielle Vega, Gabriel Chavarria, Alicia Sixtos, and Vannessa Vasquez the storylines and characters from the show completely blow our minds every time we tune in.

18. Santana Lopez from “Glee”

Fox

Santa was always prepped with withering stank faces / gripe but the proud lesbian was undoubteldy one of the most exciting characters on the show. She was unapologetic about who she was and her love Brittany.

19.  Gina Torres from “Firefly”

Fox

The Afro-Latina dream had a huge play in the plot’s storyline and was undoubtedly the leader of the pack when it came to this cult show.

20. Dani from “Glee”

Demi Lovato’s character might have only been Introduced inseries’ fifth season, but she was KEY to our love for the show. The waitress from NYC captures our love and attention from the get-go.

21. Marco from “Animorphs”

Nickelodeon

Anyone tuning into Nickelodeon back in the hey-day knows that Marco was the coolest guy on the show. He had a great sense of humor and chose to look at the world with a sense of ease.

22. Cassie from “Animorphs

Nickelodeon

The most compassionate of the Animorphs, CassieShe was kind and empathetic and often met conflict with a level head.

23. Boonie from “The Luck of the Irish”

Disney Channel

Sure Kyle was at the center of the show but Bonnie Lopez was the the true star of this hit. Bonnie had no issues calling Kyle out on his privilege and ability to coast through life with ease.

24. Gloria from “Cadet Kelly”

Cadet Kelly (2002)

Gloria Ramos, played by Aimee Garcia, might not have been the star of this Disney classic but she sure was the bones of it. Without her help, Kelly never would have been able to ensure that Kelly finishes her course.


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J.Lo’s Celebrating Selena Video Is The Heartwarming Content We Need Right Now

Entertainment

J.Lo’s Celebrating Selena Video Is The Heartwarming Content We Need Right Now

jlo / Instagram

Selena will always be a legend for Latino music lovers. The Tejano singer gave us English and Spanish songs that continue to rock our worlds. Her music is still played on the radio, in bars, and she always makes it to a few playlists out there. This weekend, people took some time to celebrate the 23rd anniversary of the release of the biopic honoring the singer.

Jennifer Lopez came through on #CelebratingSelena with her own video honoring the singer and her chance to play the role.

We’ve all seen the movie more times than we care to count. It was probably one of the most impactful movies in our younger years. It was so wonderful to see our culture represented through Selena. It was a rare moment of fully authentic representation and it is not something we will ever forget.

J.Lo’s tweet hit Selena fans in the feels as they all took time to remember the late singer.

Selena was grace and class personified. Her ability to jump into the mainstream as a Latin singer shows the kind of power she had in the music industry. She broke down barriers for Latina artists who have come after her to lead successful careers, like J.Lo and Shakira.

Who could forget the iconic bustier scene?

You know you quote “busti-caca” way more than you want to admit to. It might just be the most quotable line in the whole movie. Now that most of us are working from home until further notice, it would be a great time to watch one of the most iconic Latino films of all time.

It is still inspiring people to pay tribute to La Reina.

Even 25 years after her death, people are loving her sound and keeping her memory alive through tribute videos and just listening to her music. Selena truly is someone people will never forget. She was recently inducted into the Houston Rodeo’s Star Trail of Fame and continues to be a major figure in Latino American pop culture.

Don’t worry. You can spend any day celebrating Selena because she is one person who is always worth celebrating.

READ: Selena Is The First Latin Inducted Into Houston Rodeo’s Star Trail Of Fame