Yalitza Aparicio’s acting career has been widely talked about since the release of her film Roma, which came out last year and was filmed in Mexico. Born and raised in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, her background is what has grasped the attention of thousands of people across the globe. Both of her parents are of indigenous origin, her father Mixtec and her mother Triqui. The reactions to the film were unexpected and the attention Aparicio has received was something she hadn’t anticipated. Prior to Roma, Aparicio had no acting experience whatsoever. Rather, her career lies far from acting. She holds two degrees as an elementary school educator. Following the reception of Roma, Aparicio has given several interviews where she discusses the several stereotypes she is breaking.
In an exclusive interview with Vogue Mexico, she talked about how glad she is that her face is giving others a new understanding of the diversity that exists in Mexico and around the world.
She believes that the most beautiful thing that can happen in life, “is to develop and grow through other people, not on your own.” With this said, she always recognized the dreams she had.
The biggest dream she had was to be a preschool teacher. This was because she believes that at a young age, teachers have the capacity to motivate and guide young students to dream. Fulfilling this dream was something that was within her reach but one that came with hardships and setbacks. Nonetheless, her achievements are something she is very proud of.
When acting came into the picture, she had auditioned only to let her sister know what a casting was like. She recalls that she could have never imagined that she got the role of Cleo in Roma. If anything, she remembers that she was content with the opportunity to have tried something new while bringing along her mother so they could travel together. Upon receiving the role, she explains that it was “something so different.” Aparicio was never one to be a fan of the spotlight, especially as a younger girl when her mother would want to photograph her. Being in the midst of a whole set with cameras and lights everywhere was a different and difficult adjustment, but Aparicio was assisted every moment by her team who she felt was like family, as they allowed her to feel comfortable in everything she did.
Acknowledging her experience as something so new not just to her, but to the world, Aparicio makes the important point of noting that her roots are everything to her. They are representative of who she is and of where she will continue to go. Her growth is greatly admired in the sense that despite all the attention she has received, she remains grounded and humbled in who she is. There is so often the misconception that once one is in the spotlight, their attitude and recognition of who they are changes to the point where one tends to become out of touch with their roots and origin. Aparicio wants to point out that this isn’t how it should be.
Fame can be so quick to get to someone’s head, but it is important to be mindful of never forgetting where you come from.
With Roma being a huge film, there have been several awards and nominations recognizing the actresses and actors as well as the director of the film. The Oscars were held last month on February 24th. Aparicio was nominated for Best Actress as the first Indigenous American woman and as the fourth Latina ever. While she did not win the award, the nomination itself was a huge win because it broke several standards that the Hollywood industry has and it played a super important role in recognizing the diversity in Hollywood. It sends out several different messages. The first being that anyone has the capacity to work towards something that may have one seemed out of reach. Aparicio may have never known what could’ve been had she not auditioned for the role of Cleo, but believing in herself essentially is what kept her drive going and what got her to where she is today. The second message that this nomination sends is that humility may not always be necessary, but when it is shown, it is super admirable in the sense that is a refreshing reminder to the Hollywood industry that fame isn’t a definition to a person’s being. While what continues to follow Aparicio is unknown, her growth in the past year in regards to acting has been super applaudable. She is definitely someone to continue keeping an eye out for.