Yalitza Aparicio, the protagonist of Rome, has gone from leading a modest life to gain fame worldwide, so many questions whether that is an advance towards diversity or we are facing a product more Hollywood. Since the film of Alfonso Cuarón was released, Yalitza -from a humble family in Oaxaca- is living a dream that he would never have imagined. In the city of Tlaxiaco, where she had studied to become a teacher, Yalitza led a quiet life and is now travelling the world presenting the film, receiving awards and wearing high fashion dresses of signatures of the likes of Prada, Oscar de la Renta or Miu Miu. In addition, she has starred on the cover of numerous fashion magazines and has become the first woman of indigenous descent to appear on the front page of Vogue. “Yalitza becomes one more form of simulation, it becomes something that seems to be an icon of the indigenous but ends up being another attraction in this game,” says psychologist Ricardo Trujillo, an academic at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). Trujillo says the nomination for best actress in the Oscars, which will be held on February 24, is just another Hollywood effort to wash your image.
“Hollywood has to wash its face, show itself as inclusive and celebrate any type of minority, usually those that do not present a threat”, Trujillo explained. In addition, he considered that the fame of Yalitza is part of what is called “museumification of diversity”, that is, give a feigned value and protection to diversity while crushing the essence and nature of the group. “In Mexico, we can talk about the Aztecs now that we have killed their culture, which is another piece of the museumification of diversity when in reality we are still the same,” he says. However, the fame of the actress, which for Trujillo is partly a consequence of the positive discrimination practised by Hollywood, for many others is serving to make visible the indigenous peoples and even the entire Mexican people before the rest of the world. In addition to the racist and classist comments he has suffered as a result of his success, many believe that his Oscar nomination is unfair because of his very short career and lack of training. For example, the Mexican actress Patricia Reyes Espíndola said in an interview to national television that the fame of Yalitza is going to end soon.
“I think that fame is going to end very quickly, she’s beautiful, she did her part well, but I do not think she’s going to make a career in this (…) It’s not her vocation, it’s not what she wants” he explained. But others consider that, precisely, having so little experience, has brilliantly brought Cleo’s character to life. In that sense, Salma Hayek, who in 2002 became the first Mexican Oscar nominee for best actress for her performance in the film Frida, considered “very deserved” the nomination of Aparicio. “I’m very excited to know that I’m not alone as of today Congratulations, Yalitza, for your well-deserved nomination, I hope you take it this time,” he commented in a social media publication.
Unauthorized translation of the original article in Spanish, published on January 25 (2019), in the newspaper Milenio by Román Revueltas.