Even though the discussion of inclusivity at award shows has been going on for decades, there is still a huge lack of representation for racial minorities especially Latinos. Actress Audrey Plaza who is half Puerto Rican noticed the constant issue and rightfully called out the Academy Awards on its lack of Latina nominees.
Plaza was one of the honorees at the 21st Annual Impact Awards, where she accepted an award for outstanding performance in Ingrid Goes West, a black comedy where she plays a mentally unstable woman that is obsessed with social media, but it was her acceptance speech that caught the attention of the audience. During her speech Plaza used her usual sarcastic tone to point out a major flaw.
“I’m going to accept the leading best actress award on behalf of The Oscars ceremony because I heard a fun fact, tonight that I never knew before, which is that no Latina actress has ever won best actress at The Oscars. Ever. So, I’m going to accept that tonight to manifest that energy.”
Plaza continued her speech by jokingly stating that her part in Ingrid may not be Oscar-worthy, but she was hopeful that someday she will be representing the Latino community at The Oscars, “I’ll play some kind of psychotic character, some kind of criminal lunatic, those complicated characters I’m good at, and I’ll do that for you. And I’m going to win that award.”
Latinos make up 18% of the U.S population, yet according to the most recent data from the Motion Picture Assn. of America, they are accounted for 23% of movie tickets being sold in 2016. With those numbers, it would only make sense for Latinos to have a secure spot at the Oscars, but that is not the case. A study from USC’s Media, Diversity, and Social Change Initiative showed that in the 100 top films of 2016, Latinos were represented by just 3%.
After taking a further look at the Academy Awards it was found that since the very first ceremony 89 years ago, only three Latina actresses have been nominated for Best Actress in a leading role category. The last time was in 2005 when Catalina Sandino Moreno was nominated for her part in Maria Full of Grace, she did not win this nomination Hilary Swank won instead.
Prior to that in 2003, Salma Hayek was nominated for playing the iconic role of Frida, but she lost to Nicole Kidman. And in 1999 Fernanda Montenegro became the first Latin-American actress to ever be nominated for an Oscar for her role in Central Station.
This year marks the 90th annual Oscars ceremony and there isn’t a single Latin actor or actress nominated. However, the Academy has recognized Mexican director Guillermo Del Toro for his work in The Shape of Water with 13 nominations. And Disney-Pixar’s animated film Coco was also nominated for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song.
Should there be more Latinos nominated to The Oscars? Absolutely. Does everything need to be an Amara la Negra moment? No. But, there needs to be a conversation around the fact that not one single Hispanic actor or actress is nominated this year. Having someone like Audrey Plaza speak her mind and point out a few flaws, is the perfect way to open doors for a new dialogue to be had. It’s time for Hollywood to diversify and add a few more shades and languages to their roster.
The Oscars will take place in Hollywood on March 4th.
Continue reading in Spanish: Audrey Plaza señala Los Premio Oscars por falta de nominadas Latinas