Yalitza Aparicio, a step towards the diversity or product of Hollywood?

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Photograph of the actress Yalitza Aparicio during the release of the film "Rome" at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood (USA). EFE / Archive

Yalitza Aparicio, the Mexican actress of indigenous descent who stars in the acclaimed film “Rome”, has gone from leading a modest life to gain fame worldwide, which many question whether this is an advance towards diversity or we are looking at another product from Hollywood.

Since the debut of Alfonso Cuarón’s film, Yalitza, from a humble family in the southern state of Oaxaca, is living a dream he would never have imagined since he has no training in interpretation.

In the city of Tlaxiaco, Aparicio had a quiet life as a school teacher and is now traveling the world presenting the film, receiving awards and wearing haute couture dresses 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 first 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,” psychologist Ricardo Trujillo told Efe.

The academician of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), the most important in the country, said that the nomination for best actress in the Oscars, to be held on February 24, is just another effort by Hollywood to wash its 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 “museification 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 already killed their culture, which is another piece of the museification of diversity, when in reality we are still the same,” the professor said.

However, the fame of the actress, which for Trujillo is partly a consequence of the positive discrimination practiced 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 a 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 to life the character of Cleo, an indigenous household worker around whom the plot of “Rome” revolves.

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 said in a social media publication.

Cuarón opened a call to find a woman protagonist for his film to which Yalitz, 25, appeared without knowing that he was going to change his life and without knowing the content of the script.

Even his family came to think that it was dangerous to go in case it was a hoax related to trafficking in women.

However, Aparicio went to the test and when the filmmaker saw her come in she knew that she had to play Cleo, a character inspired by Libo, the housekeeper who saw Cuarón grow.

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