9 Latinos Who’ve Been Nominated for an Acting Oscar in Last 20 Years

Lead Photo: Art by Stephany Torres for Remezcla
Art by Stephany Torres for Remezcla
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Nominations for the Academy Awards were announced on Monday (March 15), with only a handful of Latinos nominated. Like most years, films seeking out Oscar nominations don’t have much Latino representation in the acting categories. Actor Colman Domingo had a fighter’s chance to land a nod for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, but unfortunately didn’t get tapped.

Go ahead and blame the Academy if you want or the Hollywood studio system or one of any institutions out there that isn’t necessarily concerned that Latinos aren’t in the mix again this year. It would be nice if Latinos could get some help, but if not, we’re sure they’ll find a way to come together and demand the change they deserve.

While no Latino actors were nominated this year, a handful of Latino talent in other categories were recognized. Afro-Panamanian filmmaker Shaka King earned a Best Picture nod as a producer and a Best Original Screenplay nomination for the drama Judas and the Black Messiah.

Also, Chilean director Maite Alberdi and Chilean producer Marcela Santibáñez were nominated for Best Documentary for The Mole Agent and Mexican sound artists Carlos Cortés and Jaime Baksht landed nods for Best Sound for Sound of Metal.

Until Latinos start breaking into the acting categories with more consistency at the Oscars, here is a list of the nine Latinos who have been nominated in one of the four acting categories at the Academy Awards in the last 20 years.

Salma Hayek ('Frida')

Hayek landed an Oscar nomination (Best Lead Actress) for playing Mexican artist and icon Frida Kahlo in the 2002 biopic Frida. The film explores Frida’s dysfunctional relationship with muralist Diego Rivera and her artistic style inspired by identity, gender, class and postcolonialism. Hayek became only the second Latina to get a Best Actress Oscar nomination in the history of the awards.

Benicio del Toro ('21 Grams')

Del Toro received his second Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for his role in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s 2003 drama 21 Grams. He played Jack Jordan, an ex-convict and born-again Christian who is forced to question his faith after he causes a tragic accident. Three years prior to 21 Grams, del Toro won an Oscar for his supporting role in the crime-drama Traffic.

Catalina Sandino Moreno ('Maria Full of Grace')

Moreno earned an Oscar nomination (Best Actress) in the 2004 drama Maria Full of Grace for playing the title character, Maria Alvarez, a desperate 17-year-old girl from Colombia who accepts a job to be a drug mule and travels to the United States with 62 pellets of drugs inside her pregnant stomach.

Adriana Barraza ('Babel')

Barraza earned an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s 2006 drama Babel. It was the first nomination for a Latina in the category in 19 years. Barraza played Amelia Hernandez, a Mexican nanny working for an American family in San Diego. When Amelia takes the children out without permission, they end up getting lost in the desert where they are faced with certain death.

Demián Bichir ('A Better Life')

Bichir became the first Latino in 47 years to be nominated for a Best Actor Oscar when he earned a nod in the 2011 drama A Better Life. In the film, he plays Carlos Galindo, a day laborer working in Los Angeles who is trying to raise his teenage son on his own and keep his gardening business flourishing.

Bérénice Bejo ('The Artist')

The 2011 silent, black and white French film The Artist starred Bejo as Peppy Miller, an aspiring movie star in 1920s Hollywood who is discovered after she accidentally bumps into a silent film star. Bejo, who received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress, is French-Argentine.

Lupita Nyong’o ('12 Years a Slave')

Nyong’o, who is Kenyan Mexican, landed an Oscar nomination (Best Supporting Actress) for her role in the 2013 drama 12 Years a Slave as Patsey, a slave working on a plantation in the mid-19th century who is terrorized by the sadistic plantation owner.

Yalitza Aparicio ('Roma')

Aparicio earned an Oscar nomination (Best Actress) for Alfonso Cuarón’s 2018 drama Roma. She stars as Cleodegaria “Cleo” Gutiérrez, a live-in maid working for a middle-class family in Mexico City.

Marina de Tavira ('Roma')

Tavira landed a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination Cuarón’s film, which was one of 10 nominations it earned that year. In the black and white drama, Tavira plays Sofia, the mother of a middle-class family in Mexico City whose husband has recently left her.