Yalitza Aparicio

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Yalitza Aparicio

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Jocelynn Veliz, Staff Writer

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A month ago at the Academy Awards, Yalitza Aparicio was nominated for Best Leading Actress for her part as Cleo in the movie Roma. This nomination made her the first-ever indigenous person to be nominated for an Academy Award. Aparicio has also been nominated for awards at the Chicago Film Critics Association, Gotham Independent Film Awards, Hollywood Film Awards, Alliance of Women Film Journalists, Austin Film Critics Association, Critics’ Choice Awards, Georgia Film Critics Association, and Satellite.

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Yalitza Aparicio was born on December 11th of 1993 in the city Tlaxiaco which is in Oaxaca, Mexico. She was raised by her single mother who worked as a maid. Before being chosen to play the part as Cleo, Aparicio pursued a degree in preschool education. She also already had a degree in early childhood education.

Yalitza did not plan to audition for the movie at all, it was her sister who pushed her to audition. Her sister was planning to audition for the movie but at the time she was pregnant, so in place of her, she sent Yalitza to the audition. Both did not expect her to get the part. Although many expect that Yalitza’s sister would be jealous of her for getting so big, Aparicio said in an interview that her sister was ecstatic that her sister was out in the open instead of sitting quietly like Yalitza was.

Due to the racial discrimination toward minorities as of now, her wins and nominations have inspired those who are struggling to believe in themselves, especially young girls. With the movie Roma being a foreign film, Yalitza’s role as Cleo made a huge impact in America just like the movie. Throughout the award show, there were pictures uploaded to Facebook of citizens from Oaxaca gathering in the middle of the open ground, watching the Academy Awards as it was airing.  The language that Yalitza speaks is Spanish, so throughout the Academy Awards, she answered all questions in Spanish. This made many people feel empowered by seeing someone that has the same skin color and who speaks the same language as them on TV at the Academy Awards.

When I saw Yalitza on my TV screen speaking in Spanish, I felt empowered. Of course, I’ve seen Hispanic/Latina actresses on TV but I never felt what I felt the night of the Academy Awards. It is as if I saw myself there. Hearing the words of my language being spoken from her and in the introduction of Roma made me feel warm inside. I usually do not watch the awards each year, but when I saw Yalitza there on the red carpet, I wanted to keep watching. Throughout the show, I kept looking for her. Although she did not win the Oscar for Best Leading Actress, it was such a big deal that she even got nominated. After the award show, I made sure I was being updated on all her interviews and photo shoots. Personally, I hope that she does get more exposure in America. I also hope that she continues acting. One thing I do not want is for her to end up acting in a novella but instead acting in big movies in the film industry.

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Overall, I wish Yalitza the best for her future. I would also like to thank her for inspiring me and many other people.

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