Watching the Oscars last night, you may have thought ‘damn, there’s so much diversity this year’! ‘There’s so many Black people in attendance, so many Latinx too.’ Well you’re right in certain respects, but very wrong in others. While the 9oth Academy Awards had a lot of diversity, there was so much more exclusion than you might have overseen.
What the Oscars did to appease the countless of angry Latinx who keep telling them that Representation Matters — led by the unwavering National Hispanic Media Coalition — is feature Latinx talent on their stage. However, very few of them were nominated and even less were in movies.
While Coco and The Shape of Water were big winners last night, there were zero Latinx nominated as actors. Latinx creatives in film, music, writing, and animation were nominated and several won. Guillermo Del Toro scored big with his film The Shape of Water as did Coco. There was also lots of talk of Dreamers and immigrant support and “Viva Mexico!” But that’s not enough! Not by a long shot.
We knew going into watching the Oscars that once again Latinx actors had gotten the boot from this year’s Academy Awards, but they sort of tricked us by including a lot of Latinx talent on stage as presenters and performers. Gael García Bernal, Miguel, and Natalia Lafourcade all took the stage to sing “Remember Me” with a backdrop of elaborate ode to traditional Mexican culture. Chilean actress Daniela Vega — and the first trans person to take the stage at the Oscars — introduced artist Sufjan Stevens.
Other presenters included Lin-Manuel Miranda, Oscar Isaac, Gina Rodriguez, and of course, Rita Moreno in another show-stopping stage moment. Salma Hayek was also there, alongside actresses Ashley Judd and Annabella Sciorra, who talked about the Times Up movement. Actress Eiza González was also there, and fittingly said ¡Hola, buenas noches! before she presented her award. Two Latino activist: Dolores Huerta and José Andrés, also took the stage during a powerful performance by Common and Andra Day of their Oscar nominated song “Stand Up for Something.” But they lighting was so dark that you could hardly see any of the activists.
In the audience, I also spotted Benjamin Bratt (who was in Coco) and his lovely wife, actress Talisa Soto. Guillermo Rodriguez — Jimmy Kimmel’s sidekick was also there. Naturally his boss got him tickets to the big award show, but then they put him to work during the night when a bunch of actors surprised movie-goers nearby.
I say all of this to note that including Latinx talent on any stage is very important, but we already know the huge discrepancy when it comes to Latinx representation on film. Saying it’s terrible is a huge understatement. The Academy needs to recognize Latinx as nominees, and filmmakers must include them in their films. Please take Oscar winner Frances McDormand’s advice and have an “inclusion rider” in your contract. It seems like that’s the only way to make a difference in Hollywood.