Yalitza Aparicio may not have won the Oscar for Best Actress, which went to “The Favourite” star Olivia Colman in a surprise upset over Glenn Close of “The Wife,” but in Aparicio’s case a nomination was truly a victory. Thanks to her acclaimed work in “Roma,” Aparicio broke an Oscars glass ceiling and became the first Indigenous woman nominated for Best Actress. To celebrate this historic moment, Aparicio’s nomination was celebrated on Oscars night in her hometown. The actress was born in the town of Tlaxiaco in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico, where residents joined together February 24 for a live viewing party of the Oscars.
Aparicio was one of 10 nominations the movie “Roma” received this year, making it the most nominated film of the 2019 Oscars along with “The Favourite.” “Roma” won three prizes: Best Foreign Language Film, Best Director, and Best Cinematography.
“Roma” marked the acting debut of Aparicio, who director Alfonso Cuarón discovered while she was teaching in Oaxaca, Mexico. The awards buzz and Oscar nomination has made her one of the most visible indigenous women in the world over the last several months. Mexico’s indigenous population remains a minority group in the country, which led to some racist backlash against Aparicio. Some believed a Mixtec woman should not be trailblazing Oscar season or landing major fashion covers like Vogue and Vanity Fair.
“I’m not the face of Mexico,” Aparicio told The New York Times earlier this year in response to the backlash. “It shouldn’t matter what you’re into, how you look — you can achieve whatever you aspire to.”
Aparicio continued by telling the Times how important an Oscar nom would be: “I’d be breaking the stereotype that because we’re Indigenous we can’t do certain things because of our skin color,” she said at the time, “Receiving that nomination would be a break from so many ideas. It would open doors to other people — to everyone — and deepen our conviction that we can do these things now.”
The actress did end up earning an Oscar nomination, and her historic recognition was celebrated accordingly in Tlaxiaco (see photos below). “Roma” is now streaming globally on Netflix.