The Great ROMA Empire: 10 Academy Award Nominations | Historic Firsts

...one thing is quite certain, WE are the future of film and the future has no space for walls, only new roads...paved with Oscar gold.

story by: Yol-Itzma Aguirre

Hollywood news flooded our feeds yesterday, Oscar nods are in!

Although yes, Latinx audiences are still heavily ignored by mainstream Hollywood and there is still much work to be done before we retire #OscarsSoWhite; but for this moment we are going to just celebrate and share in the joy at Academy Award Mexican filmmaker, Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma bringing in TEN OSCAR NOMINATIONS! With those noms, Roma ushers in a couple of historic firsts.


The young breakout star, Yalitza Aparicio, who recently made history becoming the first Indigenous Mexicana (Tlaxiaco, Oaxaca) to land the cover of Vogue México, has made history once again, becoming the FIRST Indigenous person to be nominated for an Oscar, Best Actress in a Leading Role. The online universe exploded with excitement and cheered along yesterday as Aparicio was filled with tears when she received the big news.

With Roma, Yalitza Aparicio becomes only the 2nd Mexicana to ever be nominated in this category after Salma Hayak, who was nominated 17 years ago in 2003 for her role in the biopic Frida. This nod also makes Aparicio only the 4th Latina to be nominated, including the first Latina ever nominated, Fernanda Montenegro (Brasileña) in 1999 for her role in Central do Brasil and Catalina Sandino Moreno (Colombiana) nominated in 2005 for Maria Full of Grace. If Aparicio brings home the Oscar gold this year, she would become the first Mexicana and first Latina to ever win.

Hayak took to social media to also share in the news and express her best wishes to Yalitza in hopefully breaking the ‘glass ceiling’ and bringing home a win.


Another huge FIRST is for Roma Producer, Gabriela Rodriguez who is Co-Producer on the film along with Alfonso Cuarón and Nicolas Celis, making her the FIRST Latina Producer nominated for Best Picture, should she win she would also become the first Latina (Venezolana) to win.

(Left) Marina de Tavira, Yalitza Aparicio, Alfonso Cuarón and Gabriela Rodriguez (right)


Roma also brings a Best Supporting Actress nomination for Marina de Tavira who would become one of the first Mexicanas to win.

Lupita Nyong’o (non-Latina) was nominated and won (2014) for her role in 12 Years a Slave, making it a first for Kenya and Mexico. Although Lupita was born in Mexico, her family returned to Kenya just one month after she was born. Nyong’o has expressed her affection for Mexican culture and did live in Mexico for one year when she was 16 years old. Fast forward to Oscar night 2014, where Lupita wore the – now famous – Cinderella dress in beautiful Nairobi blue, in honor of Kenya. “It‘s a blue that reminds me of Nairobi, so I wanted to have a little bit of home.

Both, Kenya’s President and Mexico’s President, each claimed Lupita’s 2014 win for their own country. When asked about the feud between both countries, Nyong’o simply said: “I’ve seen the quarrels over my nationality, but I’m Kenyan and Mexican at the same time. So again, I am Mexican-Kenyan and I am fascinated by carne asada tacos.In another interview Lupita cleared the air once and for all, “when people ask me where I’m from, I say, ‘I’m from Kenya.’ That’s how I identify, unless ethnicity becomes more of a thing, and then I would say ‘I’m Luo,’ which is my ethnic group.”

So there you have it, should Marina de Tavira win on Oscar night she will become the 2nd Mexicana (by nationality) but first Mexicana (by ethnicity/heritage) and first Spanish speaking actress, to win.

Mercedes Ruehl, who doesn’t identify as “Latina” but she is of Cuban heritage on her maternal side, won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 1992 for The Fisher King. Penélope Cruz (non-Latina) who is Hispanic, also took home the gold in 2008, for her work in the comedy-drama Vicky Cristina Barcelona, making her the first Española to win.

Icon, Rita Moreno, holds the distinct honor of being the FIRST Latina and first Puertorriqueña to ever win an Oscar in the history of the Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actress (1962) for her role in the classic, West Side Story. Moreno is also part of the elite group of EGOT winners, having won an Emmy (twice), a Grammy and a Tony.


Bárbara Enríquez as part of a duo team with Academy Award winner Eugenio Caballero becomes the 3rd Mexicana, 2nd Latina to be nominated for Best Production Design.

Hania Robledo was the first Latina, first Mexicana (by ethnicity/heritage) to be nominated, as part of a team with Felipe Fernández del Paso, for Frida in 2003.

Oscar winner, Brigitte Broch (non-Latina) was born and raised in Germany, then later relocated to Mexico and became a citizen. In 2002 she won the Oscar as part of a female duo with Catherine Martin for Moulin Rouge and became the first German-Mexican woman (Mexican by nationality) to win in Art Direction.

If Roma wins, Bárbara Enríquez will become the 2nd Mexicana (by nationality) but first Mexicana (by ethnicity/heritage) and first Latina to win.


Another big first, José Antonio García (who was previously nominated for Argo) and Sergio Díaz are looking to finally break the streak and bring home the win for Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Edition, respectively. Should Roma win either category, they will become the first Latinos and first Mexicanos to bring home the golden statue.


Of course not to be forgotten, the man, the legend himself, Alfonso Cuarón  who wrote the original screenplay based on his childhood. Cuarón was the first Mexican filmmaker (and Latino) to ever win the Best Director Oscar, for Gravity, there is no doubt that he has established himself as a Hollywood force, along with fellow Mexican trailblazing Oscar winners: Guillermo del Toro, Alejandro González Iñárritu and Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubezki.


Should Cuarón win this year with Roma, it could be his first win for Best Picture and second win for Best Director. Adding to the excitement, Cuarón is the first person to earn Best Cinematography and Best Director nominations in the same year for the same movie, bringing his total to an impressive 4 personal nominations, just shy of breaking Walt Disney’s record of 6 personal nominations.


Roma itself, has broken barriers as well, becoming the first film to be nominated for Best Foreign Film and Best Picture in the same year and has tied with with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon for most nominations by any foreign-language film. If Roma brings home the Oscar for Best Picture it would be the first time a Foreign Film takes the top prize.

Alfonso Cuarón on the set of Roma with Yalitza Aparicio

Lastly, let’s also show some love for Netflix, who brought Roma to the masses. This is HUGE. It is a first for the online streaming service, who might just become an Academy Award winning online streaming service. All jokes aside, this really could open up doors in filmmaking, that might otherwise be closed off to our community. The fact that Netflix is in every home and widely accessible means films – of all genre – are available to all audiences, not just to those that can afford the experience. That in itself will force the industry to change the way they look at demographics and audiences, which could change the demand for what projects get greenlit.

Win or lose, history has been made, Roma – a Spanish language, black and white film – with its 10 nominations, has broken through and set a new precedent (although, it should be mentioned that 10 Oscar nominations is becoming the new norm among Mexican filmmakers). As we continue to see notable success and achieve groundbreaking wins, such as: Pan’s Labyrinth, Gravity, The Revenant, Birdman, The Shape of Water, Coco, Roma etc…one thing is quite certain, WE are the future of film and the future has no space for walls, only new roads…paved with Oscar gold.

The Oscars will air live from the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on Sunday, Feb. 24 at 8/7c on ABC

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: