Here are some of the brilliant latinx performers who have won Academy Awards

It’s a fact: Hollywood struggles with race. The conversation extends beyond nominations — it’s about the lack of roles for and stories of people of color. Speaking of limited opportunities and stereotypes, let’s not forget Lupe Ontiveros, the latina actress who portrayed a maid more than 150 times in her career.

Historically, there has been an overall underrepresentation of minorities in the entertainment industry — that’s why we are so thankful for movements that begin the necessary dialogues around this problem. The #OscarsSoWhite hashtag was created by April Reign, who in a recent interview with The Verge, stated:

"People say we got all these 'diverse' nominees now, so #OscarsSoWhite must be done. But we don't. We have films that reflect the black experience, but there weren't any films that reflect the Latinx experience. We have cultural appropriation of the Asian-American and Pacific Islander community. I'm still waiting on [a] romantic comedy from the LGBTQIA community. There's still a lot of work to be done.which bring the lack of color to the front and center of the conversation."

In the midst of this lack of color, we wish to remember and honor some of the brilliant latinx performers who have won Academy Awards.

José Ferrer, 1951

Born in Puerto Rico, José was the first latino actor to win an Academy Award for Best Actor for Cyrano de Bergerac.  José accepted his award via call in New York. “I know it’s kind of conventional to thank people, but I am going to be conventional because I’m sincere, ” said José.

Anthony Quinn, 1952

Two years later, Antonio Rodolfo Quinn, aka Anthony Quinn, made history. Quinn won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for ¡Viva, Zapata!.  Then, in 1956, he won again for his role in Lust for Life — becoming the first Mexican — and latino — to win two Oscars in the same category. Expressing deep gratitude and holding his hand to his face, Quinn received his award and said, “Needless to say I am deeply moved.”

But where are the women?

Rita Moreno, 1961

Very few latinas have been nominated, let alone won an Oscar. The boricua Rita Moreno is the first latina to win an Oscar. She won the 8.5 pound statuette for Best Supporting Actress in West Side Story. Also – listen to this! – she was the first latina to receive the most coveted honor in Hollwood: an EGOT, which means an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony. Yes, Rita Moreno did that.


Pan’s Labyrinth, 2007

In 2007, the fantasy-drenched and politically-charged film, Pan’s Labyrinth, from Mexican director, Guillermo del Toro, received six Academy Award nominations. Pan’s Labyrinth landed three wins: Guillermo Navarro for Cinematography, Eugenio Caballero and Pilar Revuelta for Art Direction, and the catalan duo David Martí and Montse Ribé for Make-Up. During the ceremony, we saw Mexican flags waved throughout the winners’ speeches. Eugenio Caballero dedicated his award to his mother and “all the filmmakers of his country.”


Alejandro G. Iñárritu, 2016

Alejandro won Best Director for The Revenant, previously taking home the Oscar in 2015 for Birdman as well. As soon as he got on stage, Alejandro proudly exclaimed “¡Gracias!” Most importantly, Iñárritu used his speech to highlight racial issues. “They don’t listen to you. They see the color of our skin. So what a great opportunity to our generation,” he said, “to really liberate ourselves from all prejudice and this tribal thinking and make sure for once and forever that the color of skin becomes as irrelevant as the length of our hair.”

As April Reign states in her interview with The Verge:

"But we need to expand the table at which the decision makers sit so more diverse voices can be included. I've always said everything starts on the page, so we need to make sure we are mentoring screenwriters from marginalized communities, so their stories are told. And it goes from there all the way through to distribution of films once they’re made."

We look forward to seeing more nominees of color and witnessing their stories told on screen. We must support voices that reflect diverse cultural experiences.

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