On Thursday, July 1, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences extended invitations to 395 individuals to join its organization, including four Latino actors: Jesse Borrego (Blood In, Blood Out), Eiza González (Baby Driver), Luis Gerardo Méndez (Half Brothers), and Wagner Moura (Wasp Network).
Remezcla broke the news to Borrego early Thursday evening during a phone call. He immediately credited the older generation of Latino actors who, he says, paved the way for him over the years, including Alma Martinez (Zoot Suit), Oscar-nominee Edward James Olmos (Stand and Deliver), and the late Ricardo Montalban (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan).
“It’s all praise and honor to people like them who have been doing it for a long time,” Borrego said. “I think people like that who have blazed those trails have set this up for us.”
In recent years, organizations like the Academy (Oscars) and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (Golden Globes) have been called out for lack of diversity in membership. It started with #OscarsSoWhite in 2015 when all 20 Oscar nominees in the four acting categories were white actors. Since then, the Academy has made substantial moves to open its membership to more people of color. Actors like Borrego have taken notice.
“There is more of a need for Hollywood to let those voices speak for themselves,” he said. “I take it as a badge of honor and a responsibility. It’s beautiful that the Academy is moving in that direction of being more inclusive.”
Other Latinos invited to join the Academy this year outside the actor’s branch include directors Janicza Bravo (Zola) and Shaka King (Judas and the Black Messiah); cinematographers Manuel Alberto Claro (Melancholia) and Pablo Valdés (The Mole Agent); and costume designers Beatriz De Benedetto (The Motorcycle Diaries), Muriel Parra (A Fantastic Woman), and Catherine Rodríguez (Birds of Passage), among others.