Yalitza Aparicio Didn’t Win The Oscar But Her Fame And Success Are The Real Award
There are reasons to celebrate Mexican cinema today! Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma” was nominated for all the main categories in the 2019 Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Foreign Language film. Among the film’s many nominations perhaps the most important was the Best Actress nod given to Yalitzia Aparicio, a first-time actress who gave us a performance for the ages as Cleo, a caring and amazing domestic worker who is the cornerstone of a middle-class white Mexico City family. Her gaze is tender but powerful, and her body language is that of an experienced actor. Who would have guessed this is her debut on the big screen.
Yalitza Aparicio is the first indigenous woman nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress.
Aparicio lost the award to Olivia Colman for “The Favourite.” The win in the category came as a surprise as all eyes were on Aparicio, Lady Gaga, and Glenn Close and the forerunners.
One of the most adorable moments of her Oscars appearance was her mother meeting Diego Luna.
Not only is Aparicio so proud to see her mother meeting one of Mexico’s biggest stars, but her mother’s pride in her daughter is also palpable. How can you not fall in love with this mother-daughter duo.
She has savaged racist stereotypes of beauty.
Since the Netflix film debuted at the Venice Film Festival in early 2018, Aparicio has been gracing magazine covers worldwide. This cover for The Hollywood Reporter, where she looks amazing, smashed all the glass ceilings for Latinas in Hollywood, particularly considering the political climate in the U.S.
She is an icon for indigenous women.
We are sad to admit that Mexico City’s society can be, well, pretty racist. Indigenous women who migrate from the countryside often face discrimination and try to “blend in” by hiding their heritage. Not our Yalitza, who owns an amazing self-confidence that we should all learn from.
She is a proud indigenous woman with Mixtec and Triqui heritage.
Aparicio hails from the state of Oaxaca, a region that has historically struggled against colonial forces that steal land, as Aparicio’s character in “Roma” tells us. This region has a long history of struggle and political involvement.
She is bilingual.
As shown in “Roma,” Aparicio is bilingual. She speaks Spanish and Mixtec, an ancient language that you can hear in Mexico City if you pay close attention. She was coached by her best friend during production to better learn the language.
She was studying to be a school teacher.
Alfonso Cuaron was growing frustrated with his search for the perfect Cleo. Hundreds of candidates paraded before his eyes until a student by the name of Yalitza showed the depth and fortitude he was looking for. If she hadn’t been chosen, those kids would have been lucky to have a teacher as awesome as her.
Her Vogue Mexico cover received some racist backlash.
Aparicio’s sudden success in “Roma” and across the world has upset many white Mexicans. Her Vogue Mexico cover was attacked by people mocking her for her skin tone and her indigenous roots. Meanwhile, she looked gorgeous on the red carpet and made sure she waved at the camera as she, the first indigenous woman nominated for the Best Actress Oscar, walked the red carpet with the biggest names in movies.
She is only 25.
She recently celebrated her 25th birthday with the “Roma” family while the cast and crew were doing the festival and awards circuit. The sky is the limit for this awesome actress!
She didn’t want to attend the casting call.
She was just coming along with her sister, and she auditioned just out of curiosity. She was suspicious of whether the casting call was real, as sometimes women get lured into fame and fortune to be abducted and possibly sold.
She has become a Mexico City icon.
“Roma” has become the epitome of the Mexico City movie and has hit hard on the chilango nostalgia. Here we see Aparicio on the cover of Chilango magazine, which chronicles the cultural and social life of the city.
Time magazine says Aparicio had the best performance of the year.
Aparicio has wowed audiences and critics. Time magazine chose her as the best actor of 2018, over established names like Ethan Hawke. What they say: “Her performance is the kind of jewel a filmmaker could seek forever and never find.” Cuaron is one lucky dude.
The New York Times has named her the discovery of the year.
It is not often that a woman of color convinces American media that she is the real deal, let alone someone of indigenous origin. Aparicio had never acted before auditioning for “Roma.” It is one of the most incredible stories from Hollywood in recent history to watch an indigenous woman get nominated for an Oscar in her first role.
She doesn’t consider herself an actor.
Her life has made a 180-degree turn in the past few months. She is still humble and proud, and not blinded by the glitz and glamour. She told The Guardian: “I don’t think I am an actor because I haven’t studied to be an actress.”
She had no idea of who Cuaron was.
When she attended the casting call, she faced a guy who was just any other guy to her. She has told The Guardian: “It was only when I went to my final casting that I got to meet Alfonso, although it didn’t make any difference to me because I didn’t have a clue who he was or his role in the film industry.” Perhaps her innocence is what made her shine during the audition.
She has inspired activists north and south of the border.
Her role as Cleo has inspired those who fight for the rights of domestic workers in the United States and in Mexico. By highlighting how workers can have a fundamental emotional role in the family dynamics, “Roma” speaks the truth to thousands of employers and employees.
She was extremely shy before filming.
Aparicio did not like to be under the spotlight. In fact, she had to ignore the cameras while filming which is perhaps one of the factors that made her performance so natural and free.
Her mother was a domestic worker.
For Aparicio, “Roma” was a tribute to her own mother, who was a domestic worker. She understood how bonds are created between employees and particularly the children they care for.
She wants to study acting.
This is not the end of Aparicio in the film industry. Now that she is a veteran of the Oscars and the awards season, Aparicio knows it is time to learn a bit more about the craft of acting. Guaranteed that we will see her for a long time to come.
The Oscar nomination is not her only one.
This role has brought an avalanche of accolades. In addition to the Oscar, she has been nominated to awards such as the Chicago Film Critics Association, the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards, the Hollywood Film Awards, the Gotham Awards, the San Francisco Film Critics Circle, the Satellite Awards, and the Women Film Critics Circle.
Hollywood is in love with her.
Just look at Tom Hanks’ face when he met the nascent star. She has a power that few possess and her long list of award wins and nominations from her first role prove her worth in the industry.
Her parents fought for her name.
Mexican officials said that Yalitza was not a common name and refused initially to write it down in her birth certificate. She told Flood magazine: “My mom really loved it and my dad stuck to his guns”. Good on them.