On January 23, the 2018 Oscar nominations were announced on ABC, with Girls Trip Star Tiffany Haddish and Planet of the Apes’ Andy Serkis reading the list of nods. Despite the staggering success of Coco (which is nominated for Best Animated feature)—Box Office Mojo reports it grossed more than $650 worldwide and racked up $50 million domestically its first week in theaters—Latinos are still underrepresented in Hollywood and more specifically, at the 90th Academy Awards.
The one bright spot was Guillermo del Toro’s 13 nominations for the sci-fi romance The Shape of Water. The Mexican filmmaker's impressive nods include the coveted Best Picture and Best Director categories. Del Toro wrote, directed, and produced the romantic piece about a mute woman janitor in a 1960s government lab. He has three Oscars for 2006’s Pan’s Labyrinth.
Del Toro told the L.A. Times that being nominated for an Oscar is “the greatest prom night in the world.” Still, very few Latinos have had this sweet prom experience. The Academy Awards began in 1929, and it took 20 years for the first Latino to earn a nomination, and since then only one Latino, José Ferrer (for Cyrano de Bergerac), has won the Best Actor statuette. No Latina has won in the Best Actress category, however, Salma Hayek was nominated 2012’s Frida and so was Catalina Sandino Moreno for 2004’s Maria Full of Grace. Among the best-supporting-actress winners include Penélope Cruz for 2009’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona. And while debates have ensued between Mexico and Kenya as to who gets to claim Lupita N'yong'o, Mexican-born N’yongo’s put the issue to rest in El Mañana. “I've seen the quarrels over my nationality, but I'm Kenyan and Mexican at the same time,” she said. With that said, N’yong’o won a Best Support Actress trophy for 2013’s 12 Years a Slave. It’s important to note there’s been some success behind the scenes, with Best Director and Best Cinematography categories.
The fact remains that if Latinos aren’t in the movies (and behind the scenes), we will continue to remain ignored for awards because the representation isn’t there. Case in point is the recent whitewashing controversy surrounding Catherine Zeta-Jones as Griselda Blanco in Lifetime’s movie about the infamous Colombian.
2015’s #OscarSoWhite movement, started by April Reign to call attention to the lack of people of color nominated at the Academy Awards, started the conversation on a viral level that had long been talked about at the dinner table and after paying $15 to see the latest movie. People of color are tired of looking up at the big screen and not seeing themselves there.
Gina Rodriguez said it best while talking to Glamour on the SAG red carpet, “I mean, we do make $50 million plus for the country—no big deal—you should throw us in a movie or two, it would make sense. We do buy 1 in every 4 tickets every single weekend and make sure that your movies do well. So it would do you a service. And not only service, it would be—I don’t know—integrity. So thank you, Paramount and Sony, you’re driving the game, you’re doing it. You’re opening the doors.”
To see the complete list of 2018 Oscar nominations, click here. The Academy Awards airs live March 4 on ABC.