The 91st Academy Awards announced their long list of nominations for films released in 2018 — and Latinos scored in a significant way. “Roma helped Netflix finally break into the Oscars for the first with 10 nominations, including Best Picture.
“Roma” tied with “The Favourite” for the most honors leading with ten Oscar nominations, including for Best Picture.
“Thank you to the Academy for recognizing ‘Roma’ across these categories,” director Alfonso Cuarón said in a statement, according to CNN. “Human experience is one and the same, and it’s so gratifying that a black and white film about life in Mexico is being celebrated around the world. We are living a great moment in cinema where diversity is embraced by audiences. This kind of visibility pushes our industry forward and creates more opportunity for new voices and perspectives to emerge.”
Yalitza Aparicio, who had never acted before, received a nomination for Best Actress.
The 25-year-old, former student, working toward being a teacher, tweeted that she had to be woken up and informed the good news. She said that she’s “Extremely happy” and “was not expecting this news.”
Aparcio’s nomination is the only the second time a Mexican actress has received such an honor for Best Actress. In 2002, Salma Hayek scored a nomination for her role in “Frida.”
Aparicio is the first indigenous woman to be nominated for and Oscar for Best Actress.
Safe to say that her nomination is groundbreaking for an industry that has been plagued with diversity blindspots for decades.
Marina de Tavira received a nomination for Best Supporting Actress.
Tavira, who played the role of Sofia, the mother. Tavira is a veteran stage and film actress in Mexico.
Alfonso Cuarón received a nomination for Best Director, Best Cinematography, and Best Screenplay.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Cuarón now has as many Oscar nominations for a single film as two other screen legends including Orson Welles and Warren Beatty. Cuarón is the competitor to beat as he has won most awards he has been nominated for this year as “Roma” continues to dominate the awards shows.
“Roma” is also nominated for Best Foreign Language Film, Best Production Design, Best Sound Editing, and Best Sound Mixing.
Early on during the film’s initial release, Cuarón supported the idea of alternatives for movies such as Netflix. He said releasing a movie like “Roma” would have been risky if it would have gone simply through the theaters.
“My question to you is, how many theaters did you think that a Mexican film in black and white, in Spanish and Mixteco, that is a drama without stars — how big did you think it would be as a conventional theatrical release?” Cuarón said during a press conference at the Golden Globes. “I just hope the discussion between Netflix and platforms, in general, should be over. I think those guys, platforms and theatrical, should go together…They both together can elevate cinema, and more important, they can create diversity in cinema.”
The only other nomination for the Latino audience is in Best Animated Feature.
There’s no denying Jessica Marie Garcia’s vibrant, go-getter personality. She makes it known to audiences and fans both on and off-screen in her role as Jasmine in Netflix’s coming-of-age comedy, “On My Block.”
You know when Garcia walks into a room. She’s just as bold, daring and warm-hearted as she appears around Freeridge, the fictional Los Angeles neighborhood OMB is set in.
Before season 3 started streaming, mitú caught up with Garcia in between breaks while filming on location in Burbank, California. She discussed big hoop energy, how she connected on a personal level with some of Jasmine’s most emotional scenes, and how she unearthed more of her Mexican roots after moving to Los Angeles.
What audiences can be excited to see in season 3 is more dialogue between Jasmine and the ‘core four,’ especially with Jason Genao’s character Ruby Martinez in a will-they-or-won’t-they? crush dance throughout the current season.
A character with as much wise advice and heart as Jasmine needed to be given more lines and fans appreciate it.
Dare we say Jasmine’s energy is big hoop energy?
Garcia talked about how Jasmine’s personalized earrings helped her step into some added fierceness before the camera started rolling.
“I was the one that had their ears pierced at three months old, ok. That’s just like a given. Especially for Jasmine, hoops hold a lot of power. And even as an actor, her ‘Jasmine’ earrings that say Jasmine in them, I put a lot of that in Jasmine,” Garcia says. “I put a lot of love and power on those hoop earrings. I always had hoops growing up. You had to be able to put your fists in them or they’re not realistic. That’s a thing. I want different sizes, different shapes. They’re important for anyone really.”
One of Jasmine’s most relatable qualities was her ability to always see the positive in the direst of situations.
Garcia was an advocate for her character to showcase this multidimensionality. She didn’t want to have a character like Jasmine relegated to being a tag-along character on the outer orbit.
Representation on TV is better for it, especially when it comes to showing love and curves.
“Being a love interest, being a thicker girl and not having to be like the ‘thing’ they always talk about means everything to me because I don’t think that we see that a lot on TV,” Garcia says. “You know I just don’t talk about being a thicker girl 24 hours a day, it’s such a strange idea that that’s all we can talk about, so I appreciated it, and I also felt a responsibility for all those girls watching, like ‘OK, you gotta do it for me.’ I’m just honored that it’s me.”
Ruby starts catching feelings for her in the show for who Jasmine is as a person and who she makes him feel when she’s around him. And isn’t that just the kind of amor bonito you want to wish upon some of TV’s best breakout characters?
Audiences can also tell throughout the course of the show’s three seasons that Jasmine is there for Ruby in a deeper sense than some of his fellow friends. As much as Ruby’s friends try to support him after his PTSD, Jasmine truly gets what he is going through because of her dad’s disability coming back from war.
Garcia knows as Jasmine that Ruby’s PTSD will always affect him.
“I don’t think that that is something Ruby as a character is ever not going to think about. You see even in these beautiful moments when we won that dance competition, and he was put in that place,” Garcia says. “[It’s good] for kids to know that these situations don’t get cleaned up in 30 minutes. This is a lifetime of pain that he has to deal with and that’s going to affect him as an adult. That’s going to affect the choices he makes. And again, that loss of innocence, it’s a huge part of him. He’s never going to be season 1 Ruby. It was a near-death experience that will affect him—and the core four.”
Garcia was able to tap into that emotion for such a pivotal scene like bringing Ruby around her family because she experienced that moment.
“I’ve lived with my grandparents my whole life and my grandmother had dementia when I was, I want to say 13 years old, she got a stroke and got dementia,” Garcia says. “She moved out here and I was taking care of her out here with my mom. And it was something strange to have friends over, because I had to tell them she might scream or she might try to leave. It’s never something that as a teenager, you want to feel more different, so having to explain that is always something that was scary to me. Because I was always like, are my friends going to be able to understand that?”
“So when I played that with Jasmine and I was introducing Ruby to her father, that was nerve-wracking because I wanted it to be something that I could be able to accept but a lot of people don’t understand what that’s like,” Garcia recalls. “It was definitely a scene that I cared about a lot and I freaked out so much filming it. Just because as an actor we’re neurotic and I always want another take, and I never think something is good enough,” she continued.
It turned out to be one of the most-loved scenes by audiences of the show.
Fans connected to it as they saw Ruby and Jasmine’s friendship blossomed.
Garcia enjoys going through her fans’ messages and is known to reply back personally and even screenshot them.
“I’m lucky enough to say I get them a lot [fan messages], and it’s really just the message of being able to see that they see themselves in me. That is something that I will never get over because growing up, I didn’t,” Garcia admits. “I had to look onto other people in order to see any kind of representation. I say this all the time—Khadijah in Living Single is the reason why I’m here today. Seeing a thick, beautiful woman not be apologetic for any of that is what I wanted to see—but thinking like oh, I’ll be that token person, you know? And I think if it’s a White show, you have a Black friend or a Brown friend, but you never have both. And that’s just not life. So the fact that we have a cast of people of color and not having to completely talk about that the whole time, just being real, is amazing. Those kinds of messages mean everything to me. I save all of them, I screenshot them. I love responding to fans. I love responding to beautiful people, yes!”
She loves to encourage her fans to learn more about filmmaking and writing in order to be the next generation of content creators.
“You can’t decide that we’re going to write for a certain demographic and then not have that demographic writing, it just doesn’t make sense. That’s why we have the same stories. It’s exhausting,” Garcia says. “I think we also have to encourage our youth to go into screenwriting and take film school and just write. That’s the biggest thing is write down everything, because you’ll learn that acting may be something you saw and saw yourself in and you’ll find this love of this other craft because there are so many departments that make this a real thing.”
Garcia has been able to explore more of her roots now that she is living in Los Angeles thanks to the show.
“When I was in Florida, it’s a pretty mixed bag. But as far as Latinos, you’re in Orlando, you’re Puerto Rican. If you’re in Miami, you’re Cuban. And like that’s it,” Garcia recalls of Florida. “They used to call me ‘Mexico’ all the time in Orlando because it was so weird that I was Mexican (I don’t know how it is now). Coming here, I was surrounded by people that looked like me, but I didn’t know their traditions or anything, and then I just felt like I was missing out this whole time. So it’s been a beautiful discovery actually. I don’t speak Spanish, which is probably the bane of my existence, but I also think I speak for a lot of first-generation Latinos who understand it all, but when I speak it it’s a little sad. I say a little prayer and a wish, but you know I’m learning, and that’s part of it too.”
Perhaps in season 4 Jasmine will get to practice her Spanish on the show in some phrases.
Guys, this. is. crazy. Two people claim that I look like Carlos Santos from Netflix’s new series “Gentefied.” Que honor! I mean, whatever, it was my wife’s tía who said I look like him and my wife.
Check it out, y’all.
I mean, I totally see it and there is no way I can be biased.
Carlos Santos, If you need me to do your stunts or stand in for you when you eat a taco or bite into a torta ahogada, just let me know, homie. I’m ready for Hollywood, cabrón.
Enough about me being famous and extremely handsome. I’m here to let your booty know if it’s worth it to sit through ten episodes of “Gentefied.”
Here’s the premise of the show:
Two feuding cousins struggle to keep their abuelo’s taco restaurant afloat. All the while, the threat of gentrification, and the emergence of young hipster customers force the traditional taco joint to adapt to survive.
I grew up in Huntington Park, California and this show should be praised for how it handles complicated themes. From gentrification to Chicano identity and the struggles of lower-income families, the show reminds me un chingo of my hood, my childhood, and even my present-day life. “Gentefied” tookthe stuff I grew up dealing with, and found a way to present it in the context of a comedy series. But, make no mistake, you will cry while watching this show because you will see your own community represented.
Casimiro (A Traditional Compa in Changing Times)
Recognize this dude? Of course! You know he looks like your abuelo. I know he looks a lot like my abuelo. The casting for Casimiro (the abuelo and taco restaurant owner on the show) is perfection. This viejo knows how to make you cry.
For starters, Casimiro is still in love with his deceased wife, Delfina, and you’ll catch him getting sentimental thinking about her every now and then. My heart was not ready for that kind of love and the tragedy of his character is already implied in his name. “Casi”-“miro,” Spanish for “nearly sees,” because this poor character’s conflict throughout the show is his struggle to hang on to his tradition and values while keeping an eye on the ever-changing present and trying to adapt.
Casimiro is surrounded by change. Rent going up. Menus evolving to catch the attention of young customers. Rich developers swooping in on Boyle Heights and buying up property as the city quickly becomes a hot spot. You’ll have to watch the series to see if this sweet old abuelo can keep up with everything happening around him.
The queer topic is still highly taboo in Latino culture. We don’t talk much about it, at least not with older generations of Latinos. Even though LGBTQ+ rights made huge strides leading up to 2016 and shows like“Queer Eye” are beloved in the mainstream, older Latino generations still have reservations and a hard time accepting queer family members.
In the show, Karie Martin, plays Anna Morales, a queer muralist/painter. Morales gets caught between her protesting girlfriend’s war against the gentrifiers and Casimiro and family’s attempts to keep the business alive. Anna is a struggling artist with a heart of gold but her storyline gets deep when she finds herself being commissioned by the very developers who are out to buy up her neighborhood. The drama gets thicc, fam.
The show raises a lot of moral questions about making pure art versus profit, and how artists can sometimes end up putting aside their values because sometimes you gotta pay the bills. Definitely watch how this plays out. You definitely want to keep an eye out on episode 5. It’s a gem and gives a little insight into the queer struggle amongst Latinos.
The “Not Mexican Enough and Not American Enough” Issue
Back Carlos Santos, who plays Chris on “Gentefied.” Chris is the grandson of Casimiro and is trying to get out of the hood so he can become a 5-star Michelin chef. His family refers to him as a “coconut,” which is what you call someone who’s brown on the outside, but gringo af on the inside.
Throughout the show, Chris’s Mexican identity is always put into question. His coworkers literally make him take a “Mexi-test” to see if he passes as a true Mexican. His family cracks jokes about his hipster tastes. Yet, in the face of his Caucasian boss, Chris is basically another brown dude, with a little bit of skill in the kitchen.
I can relate, like so many. I was born here. So, yes, I like Tame Impala. I like sushi. However, arroz y frijoles has my heart and so does Selena. Chris’s character represents an identity many children born to immigrant parents might sympathize with. Our struggle is we never feel like we belong, but we can take comfort in the fact that shows like “Gentefied”are shining a light on this identity. You’re not alone. If you think you need to pick a side and choose which nationality you rep more Latino or American, this show encourages you to be both and celebrate your intersectional identity.
Look, I don’t want to spoil anything, but when you get to episode eight, “Women’s Work,” you’re going to get a strong urge to knock on your mom’s doors and cry-hug her. Anna’s mom on the show played by Laura Patalano is everyone’s mom. She is a queen and a true icon. She is sarcastic. She is harsh. You end up respecting her or at least sympathizing with her by the end of the series. I could write an entire book on this character.
So, should you watch “Gentified”? Yes.
Not only is the series enjoyable to watch and will keep you carcajeando like your crazy tía when she forgets to take her medicine, but the characters are very well-developed, their story arcs join up beautifully, and you will fight back tears because this show hits home emotionally. As an extra incentive, some of your favorite mitú friends make appearances in the show: shout out to Jenny Lorenzo and Scar. A special shout out to Steph O. who worked behind-the-scenes.
Get binging, cabrones. And let us know what you think.