Back in 2016 he took home his first trophy as producer of Pixar’s Inside Out, directed by longtime collaborator Pete Docter. On Sunday night, the latest installment in the 25-year-old Toy Story franchise granted him the historical moment of glory. This feels like a full circle moment for Rivera, who started his career at the famous animation studio working on Woody and Buzz Lightyear’s first adventure in 1995 as a production office assistant.
Inside the press room after winning, Remezcla informed Rivera of his landmark achievement, which was until then unbeknown to him.
“Wow. I didn’t know that,” he said, “and as if my mind couldn’t be more blown about the last five minutes, thank you for that word because I’m a little bit — I’m a little bit out of my body right now. It means the world to me. I can’t even really put it into words, to be honest with you. I’m so proud of this thing and working with these guys, but to have that added on top is just — sort of cements it. So thank you.”
— The Academy (@TheAcademy) February 10, 2020
Rivera went on to explain he doesn’t speak Spanish fluently because he only heard the language around him in a specific context. “I’m a child of the ’70s. The only Spanish I learned was when my grandparents would fight. That’s the only time they’d speak Spanish in front of us,” he shared.
Nonetheless, his Mexican heritage has always been present. He used his time to honor his grandfather, to whom he owes the hardworking mentality and dedication that has guided his successful career.
“My grandfather was from Jalisco, Mexico, and grew up in El Paso. My dad’s side of the family is the Mexican side of my family. My grandpa always instilled in me the work ethic. He drove trucks of filleted fish, and always told me, ‘You work hard mijo, no matter what you do, you work hard. And if you love what you do, it will pay you back.’ And he was right. I wish he was here today, but I know he’s looking down on me.”