Yalitza Aparicio / Mexico

Oscar nominated leading actress - Roma

Born in 1993 in Tlaxiaco, Oaxaca, Mexico. Trained as a primary school teacher, Yalitza Aparicio auditioned for Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma almost by chance. Since the day she was cast for the role of Cleo, she has intentionally used her new platform to advocate for gender equality, indigenous rights, and the rights of domestic workers. Her work has challenged the power structures present in the media and the film industry. She was the first indigenous woman to appear on the cover of Vogue Mexico, the first indigenous woman nominated for an Academy Award and the second Mexican woman ever nominated for the Oscar for Best Actress. Since her work in Roma, Yalitza has attended numerous conferences for the promotion of human rights and of Mexican culture, often as a speaker.
In March, 2019 she spoke at the International Labor Organization (ILO) of the United Nations as the keynote speaker for International Women’s Day, discussing the need to treat domestic work with dignity and respect in the talk “A Quantum Leap for Gender Equality: For A Better Future of Work for All,” in partnership with the National Domestic Workers’ Alliance (NDWA) in the U.S., the Centro de Apoyo y Capacitación para Empleadas del Hogar (CACEH) and Semillas in Mexico. She is also the face of the ILO’s Fight Racism campaign, launched March 2019. Furthermore, Yalitza’s and Roma’s campaign helped pass a Labor and Social Security law in Mexico protecting the rights of domestic workers.
She participated in the One Billion on Foot campaign, which took place in over 200 countries and aimed to personify the collective opposition against gender violence. Only those who actively oppose gender violence and who are among the more than a billion women affected by gendered violence participated in the march. In addition, As a representative of the “Zero Violence Against Women” campaign at the International Film Festival of Guanajuato, she has advocated against the pervasive violence experienced by women in Mexico.

In May 2019, she was presented with a Changemaker Award by the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST). She was also presented with a Pride of My City Award from the LGBTI community in Mexico City in December 2018, who she thanked on her Instagram, writing, “I know we are living in difficult times as a society, but we must keep working to change things. We may be black, white, tall, short, straight, gay, or whatever else, but we all deserve to be treated with respect.”
That year, Yalitza worked with the Mexican Comission for the Defense and Promotion of Human Rights to narrate the animated short “Arbitrary Executions.” Yalitza works to make her messages of equality inclusive, especially to children: she has appeared on Sesame Street (Mexico) with messages of empowerment, and has worked with schoolchildren from Oaxaca to raise money for schools in her hometown of Tlaxiaco.
Finally, Yalitza has positioned herself as a cultural advocate for the communities of Tlaxiaco, of Oaxaca, and of Mexico itself. She is the ambassador of the annual Oaxacan cultural festival La Guelaguetza, which is strongly rooted in the indigenous traditions of the region. In her short career, she has overcome virulent responses of racism, classism and misogyny that erupted in response to her sudden fame, and above all has used her new platform to tirelessly promote tolerance, respect, and dignity for all peoples.
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