Aubrey Plaza’s deadpan comedy style is so spot-on, she leaves us wondering if she’s joking, until several moments later when we crack up after realizing, that, yes, she was totally joking. But at the National Hispanic Media Coalition Impact Awards, Plaza ditched the comedy in order to get very real about the lack of Latinx representation at the Academy Awards.
Plaza, who is half-Puerto Rican, accepted her Impact award for her performance in Ingrid Goes West. In her acceptance speech, she spoke an uncomfortable truth: that no Latinx actress has won an Oscar for Best Actress. “I’m going to accept the leading best actress award on behalf of the Oscars ceremony,” she said, “because I heard a fun fact tonight that I never knew before, which is that no Latina actress has ever won best actress at the Oscars. Ever. So I’m going to accept that tonight to manifest that energy.”
Let’s repeat what Plaza said, for emphasis. No Latina actress has ever won an Oscar for Best Actress. This year, there are zero Latinx actresses and actors nominated for any acting awards. The problem is, Latinx actresses and actors are passed over for big leading roles, which puts them at a huge disadvantage for winning awards. That is an egregious oversight, given the talented Latinx actors in Hollywood.
It’s even more upsetting when you consider that Hispanic audiences love seeing the movies. Variety writes that “Latinos make up 18% of the U.S. population, but accounted for 23% of all movie tickets sold in 2016, according to the most recent data from the Motion Picture Assn. of America.” And yet, a population that accounts for almost 20% of movie ticket purchases contends with an art medium that rarely casts them in speaking roles.
The #OscarsSoWhite hashtag doesn’t stop with Black actors and actresses, the conversation also includes the dire lack of Latinx and Asian performers. When actors of color are cast in prominent roles, it reminds us of what the world really looks like, and captures our values much more thoroughly. Hollywood, do better.
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