Yalitza Aparicio is making history. The Hollywood newbie was nominated for “Best Actress in a Leading Role” on Tuesday for her performance as a domestic worker in Alfonso Cuarón’s “Roma,” making her the first Indigenous woman to be nominated in that category in the Academy’s 90-year history.
“Roma,” produced by Participant Films and currently available for streaming on Netflix, is a film based on Cuarón’s childhood in 1970s Mexico City. Aparicio, an Indigenous actress from Oaxaca, Mexico, plays Cleo, a live-in housekeeper to a middle-class family. During the film, she had to perform some of her dialogue in Mixtec, one of 68 Indigenous tongues spoken in the southern nation.
The film is nominated for 10 Academy Awards, including best picture, foreign language film, director, lead actress and supporting actress, original screenplay, sound mixing, sound editing, production design and cinematography.
Last week, Aparicio, 25, told the New York Times what it would mean to her and her community should she be nominated for the coveted award.
“I’d be breaking the stereotype that because we’re Indigenous we can’t do certain things because of our skin color,” she said. “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.”
With the nomination, Aparicio isn’t just the first Indigenous woman to be up for the award for leading actress but she is also only the second Mexican actress to be nominated in the category, following Salma Hayek, who was up for the award for her 2002 role in “Frida.”
In 2013, Kenyan-Mexican actress Lupita Nyong’o won supporting actress for 2013’s “12 Years a Slave.”
The 2019 Oscars will broadcast live from Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre on Feb. 24.