“Barbie” “Snubs” Overshadows Latina, Afro-Latino, and Native American Historic Oscar Nominations
Awards season is upon us, and the Academy Awards, also known as the Oscars, are still the most important event. Since 1929, the Oscars have recognized excellence in cinema. As such, the golden statuette is one of the most coveted prizes in the industry and a huge marker of success. But, as a shock to no one, the awards have mostly just focused on white people.
In 96 years, only 36 Latinos have won an Oscar. The Latinas who have taken the prize home include Rita Moreno, Mercedes J. Ruehl, Ariana DeBose, and Lupita Nyong'o for Best Supporting Actress, Yvett Merino for Best Animated Feature, Brigitte Broch for Best Production Design, Beatrice De Alba for Best Makeup, and Michelle Couttolenc for Best Sound Mixing.
The disparity is glaring. Of the 13,253 Academy Award nominees, only about 180 Latinos have been nominated in the history of the Oscars. This is why campaigns like the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite, which took Twitter by storm in 2015 and 2016, and is still being used today, have gained so much traction–the issue is too obvious to ignore.
It’s even worth noting the current state of the official Academy Awards Instagram page. Among the diverse nominations that made history this year, none of them are featured. In fact, you’ll have to scroll to the very bottom to find a few. It may seem unimportant, but it speaks volumes about who’s top of mind to feature–and it’s not nominees of color.
These barrier-breaking nominees deserve to make headlines not just for their talent, but also because they have achieved a feat that’s statistically almost impossible if you’re not white.
Afro-Latino Actor Colman Domingo for Best Actor - Historic Nomination
The erasure of Afro-Latino and Black representation in media has created an uphill battle for Afro-Latino actors especially when it comes to fighting stereotypes and discrimination so when an Afro-Latino can break through that, it’s an impressive feat.
Enter Belizean-Guatemalan Afro-Latino actor Colman Domingo, who has made history by becoming the first Afro-Latino nominated for an Oscar in the Best Actor category. The nomination comes for his incredible performance in “Rustin,” a civil rights drama that follows Bayard Rustin, a gay Black man who served as an advisor to Martin Luther King Jr.
This is also a very exciting nomination for the LGBTQIA+ community, as Colman is only the second gay man to ever be nominated for an Oscar for portraying a gay character. To say that he’s happy about this nomination and what it means to him and to the communities he’s a part of is an understatement.
He has taken to Instagram to say thank you for the outpouring of love and support:
Native American Actress Lily Gladstone for Best Actress - Historic Nomination
Afro-Latinos aren't the only community that's been erased or riddled with stereotypes. Native Americans in the film industry have been fighting not only against stereotypes but also for increased authentic representation. Needless to say, it has been a challenge. Of the 1,600 theatrical movies released in the last 16 years, only one protagonist was Native American, according to research from the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative.
Lily Gladstone brings the first major win for Native Americans in the industry by becoming the first Native American nominee for the Oscar for Best Actress–another historic nomination for the books. Her performance in “Killers of the Flower Moon” as Mollie Burkhart, a woman of the Osage Nation trying to save her community from white men who are after the tribe's wealth and stop at nothing to get it, has been praised across the board.
Other Indigenous actresses nominated at the Oscars for the same category include Yalitza Aparicio, Native Mexican, and Merle Oberon and Keisha Castle-Hughes, Maori. While Lily is joining a tiny group of people, the ripple effect of her nomination and potential win may be felt for years.
Fun fact: Lily Gladstone was voted “Most Likely to Win an Oscar” in her high school yearbook.
Honduran-American Actress America Ferrera for Best Supporting Actress
Honduran-American actress, producer, and director America Ferrera, known mostly for her work on “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” and ABC’s “Ugly Betty,” was nominated for Best Supporting Actress at the Oscars. She’s being nominated for her role in “Barbie,” where she plays Gloria, a Mattel employee who connects with Barbie and helps her on her journey.
America Ferrera’s character delivers a passionate monologue about how impossible it is to be a woman and check all the boxes that women are expected to check. The scene went viral and sparked a lot of discussion when it resonated with women from all walks of life.
Despite this historic and monumental win for Latine representation in film, Ferrera’s nomination has been overshadowed by the perceived “snubs” of Margot Robbie (Barbie herself) not being nominated as Best Actress and Greta Gerwig (the film’s director) not being nominated for Best Director.
Diverse Oscar Nominations Remain a Low Priority in Media
While the shock and outrage of Robbie and Gerwig not being nominated are understandable to some extent, it’s important to note that “Barbie” has received 8 Oscar nominations, including Gerwig’s nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay and Robbie’s nomination for Best Picture, in her role as producer.
Despite these wins for both Robbie and Gerwig, there’s been a swell of outcry and commentary on social media and traditional media, including a post by former First Lady Hillary Clinton. The argument is that Gerwig and Robbie not being nominated for those specific categories is misogynistic.
Whether the public agrees with this assessment is irrelevant to the fact that when the public’s focus is entirely on the perceived snub of two white women, while failing to even mention the historic nature of not just one, but three nominations of a Latina, an Afro-Latino, and a Native American, the result is the minimization and partial erasure of enormous gains for communities of color.
To put it simply, the issue here is that the same energy that has been dedicated to raging about Gerwig and Robbie’s “snub” hasn’t been dedicated to boosting the people of color who have been nominated in the 2024 Oscars. Specifically the women of color who have been shining so brightly this awards season.
This hasn’t been entirely ignored, though. Commentators on social media and traditional media have started to speak up about this, cutting through the noise of White feminism.
For instance, Whoopi Goldberg shared her two cents by reminding the public of one of life’s truths: we don’t always get a prize. The point has to be made again; Barbie is nominated in 8 different categories, so it will likely get a prize, just not the one too many are griping about. Moreover, TikTok users have broached the subject to rally for nominees of color amidst all the chatter about Robbie and Gerwig.
White feminism unpacked pt. 1 #oscars #whitefeminism #barbie #barbiemovie #commentary #commentarytiktok #feminism #greenscreen #glassceiling #racismawareness #oscars2024
The bottom line is this: people of color who have been systematically snubbed in every way, shape, and form (not just in the film industry, but in every industry), deserve to celebrate their accomplishments and stand in the spotlight without shame, without guilt, and, most of all, without apology.
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