“It’s a wild dream come true,” admits Yalitza Aparicio when asked about her Oscar nomination for “Roma.” The cinematic newcomer “never thought of acting” as a career before being cast as the central character in Alfonso Cuaron‘s intimate drama. Watch our exclusive video interview with Aparicio above.
Aparicio stars in the film as Cleo, a maid working for a middle-class family in Mexico City during the 1970s. Cuaron based the film largely on his own experiences, creating Cleo as a version of his real-life caregiver.
Aparicio went to the audition — which was held in the small Oaxaca, Mexico, town where she grew up — almost by accident. She recalls, “I went with my sister,” who had responded to an open casting call. Though she’s not quite sure why the director chose to entrust the lead role to her, she believes it had to do with the similarities between her and the character, a nanny who dearly “loves” the four children in her care.
Her acting debut was especially unique considering she never saw a finished script. “In the beginning, I thought this was normal,” she explains. “But it actually ended up helping, not having a script and shooting in chronological order, because I naturally learned about my character.”
In addition to her Oscar nomination, Aparicio also competed at the Critics’ Choice Awards, where “Roma” won prizes for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography and Best Foreign Language Film. It repeated those victories at the BAFTAs, and it won additional awards for Best Director and Best Foreign Film at the Golden Globes.
At the Oscars, “Roma” is tied with “The Favourite” as the most nominated film with 10 bids. It competes for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress (Marina de Tavira), Best Original Screenplay and more. If it wins Best Picture it will be the first foreign-language film and the first streaming film to win. And if Aparicio prevails she will be the first Latin-American woman to win Best Actress.
Be sure to check out how our experts rank this year’s Oscar contenders. Then take a look at the most up-to-date combined odds before you make your own 2019 Oscar predictions. Don’t be afraid to jump in now since you can keep changing your predictions until just before winners are announced on February 24.