Slim on diverse representation outside of South Korea’s Parasite, the 92nd Academy Awards included a handful of Latino nominees and multiple presenters the likes of Salma Hayek, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Anthony Ramos.
Yet, the most unexpected Latino appearances occurred during several winners’ acceptance speeches, which shouted out and recognized our contributions on cinema’s biggest stage. It doesn’t make up for the lack of access Latinos experience in the industry, but shows that we are too significant to ignore.
First, Brad Pitt, who won for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, acknowledged Robert Garcia, simply mentioning he was a notable part of the crew. Garcia is listed as Pitt’s driver in both Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and his other 2019 film Ad Astra, although they may go as far back as The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
In the interview room, Remezcla inquired further about Garcia and his relationship with one of Hollywood’s most recognizable performers. “Robert Garcia is a dear, dear old friend of mine. He’s a Teamster and I rely on him heavily and he’s a lovely guy,” said the star.
Later in the evening, another surprise mention took place when Ford v Ferrari nabbed the Best Editing Oscar. American editor Andrew Buckland spoke in Spanish for his wife Maria, and sent his regards to her family in Argentina. While he is not from South America, his ties to the country run deep and in 2011 he made a short documentary titled Somos Wichi about indigenous people in the Gran Chaco forest of northwestern Argentina.
“To my amazing and beautiful wife, María, and our son Lucas. I love you so much, te quiero mucho. To my sister Claire and Joe, and to Armando. To my mom and dad who supported me from the very beginning, I love you so much. To my family in Argentina, un beso grande,” he concluded during the broadcast.
Backstage, Remezcla asked him to expand on his relationship with Argentina and why the country is so meaningful to him, enough to mention it in his speech.“ I always feel like if it wasn’t for Argentina, I wouldn’t be here today. I met my wife traveling, and she’s from Argentina. I was able to live in Argentina for a while, and I sort of regained my passion for film again while living in Argentina,” said Buckland.
But perhaps the most shocking of all signs of appreciation came from Renée Zellweger, who won the Best Actress statuette for her performance as Judy Garland in Judy, when she name-dropped veteran civil rights activist Dolores Huerta and the Queen of Tex-Mex music herself, Selena Quintanilla, while speaking about American heroes that unite and inspire us.
“I have to say that this past year of conversations celebrating Judy Garland across generations and across cultures has been a really cool reminder that our heroes unite us. The best among us who inspire us to find the best in ourselves. You know, when they unite us, when we look to our heroes, we agree. And that matters: Neil Armstrong, Sally Ride, Dolores Huerta, Venus and Serena and Selena, Bob Dylan, Scorsese, Fred Rogers, Harriet Tubman.”
It’s momentous that Latinos weren’t entirely left out even when the projects and accolades still don’t often look our way, but the hope is that we can, sooner rather than later, start tooting our own horns for a change.