Oscars 2019: Yalitza Aparicio Is the First Latina to Be Nominated for Best Actress in 14 Years

The 25-year-old newcomer won over Hollywood as Cleo in Alfonso Cuarón’s heartfelt drama.

It’s a big day for Yalitza Aparicio and the Latinx community! 

The Roma actress garnered her first Oscar nomination for Best Actress for her captivating role as Cleo, a character based on director Alfonso Cuarón’s nanny, whose real name is Liboria "Libo" Rodriguez. The historic nomination marks the first time a Latina has been nominated for Best Actress in 14 years. 

The last woman nominated in that category was Catalina Sandino Moreno for Maria Full of Grace in 2005. Aparicio is the fourth Latina actress nominated in the category overall and the second Mexican-born actress after Salma Hayek to be recognized in the category.

“From the very first casting call to this morning, my Roma journey has been extraordinary," Aparicio said in a statement. "As a daughter of a domestic worker and an indigenous woman myself, I am proud this movie will help those of us who feel invisible be seen. I am eternally grateful to the Academy for recognizing ROMA and am honored to be part of Alfonso’s vision. Congratulations to Alfonso, the entire cast and crew, and my dear friend Marina De Tavira. I am so humbled and honored. Thank You."

Born in Tlaxiaco, Oaxaca, Mexico, Aparicio had no acting experience prior to Roma. The young starlet holds a degree in education and was persuaded by her sister to attend a casting call for the film with producer Gabriela Rodriguez. After a bit of convincing, Aparicio agreed to audition for the role of Cleo and so began a life-changing journey.

“I’ve tried to digest this entire experience because it’s all new to me,” Aparicio told ET earlier this year. “This is something I never imagined could happen to me but now I realize I’m an example for others -- to prove that everyone can obtain their dreams if they truly believe.”

“At first, this was an opportunity to pay tribute to my mother for her work. She too is a housekeeper, but now I realize this film is an opportunity to show all domestic workers the importance of their role within a family unit,” Aparicio added. 

ET also caught up with Cuarón in December where he praised Aparicio for her performance. 

“Yalitza is the heart of Roma,” Cuarón told ET. “It's a film that without the presence of Yalitza and the performance of Yalitza, it wouldn't work. This film in many ways, in my life, has been a before and after. So, Yalitza is very important in my life.” 

The film, which won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival last year, has taken top prizes this month. It took home Best Picture, Best Director, Best Foreign Language Film and Best Cinematography at the Critics’ Choice Awards. It also garnered two major wins in the Best Foreign Language and Best Director categories at the 76th Annual Golden Globes.

Roma is playing in select theaters and streaming on Netflix. For more on the film, watch the video below. 

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