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Yalitza Aparicio is officially an Oscar nominee. On Tuesday morning, it was announced that the 25-year-old was nominated for Best Actress in her breakout role in Alfonso Cuarón's Roma, a film about a domestic worker in 1970s Mexico City.Aparicio's nomination makes her the first Indigenous woman to be nominated for a leading role in the Academy Awards' history.According to Entertainment Tonight, the historic nomination also 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.
Aparicio, who took on the role soon after graduating with a teaching degree, had never acted before Roma, but says she hopes her character Cleodegaria "Cleo" Gutiérrez sheds light on the plight of Indigenous people. Cleo takes care of a wealthy Mexican family shaken by an impending divorce that takes place during the Dirty War (which left thousands of political dissidents, students, and activists dead or disappeared in the 1960s, 70s, and early 80s).
Mexico's Indigenous population is estimated to be 12.6 percent of the wider population and 80.6 percent of the Indigenous population are considered to be "extremely poor," according to a 2015 United Nations report.“I’d be breaking the stereotype that because we’re Indigenous we can’t do certain things because of our skin color,” she told theNew York Times. “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.”