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The Mexican actress Yalitza Aparicio at her nomination ceremony as Embassador of Godwill for UNESCO. Photo: UNESCO
The Mexican actress Yalitza Aparicio at her nomination ceremony as Embassador of Godwill for UNESCO. Photo: UNESCO

Yalitza Aparicio, from the nanny in 'Rome' to the next Rigoberta Menchú

The first indigenous Latin American actress to be nominated for an Oscar is UNESCO's new Goodwill Ambassador.

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"I have always said that I am proud to be an indigenous woman." 

These were the words Aparicio said at the nomination ceremony in Paris, where she was honored by her commitment to the indigenous communities' rights and with women fight for equality.

Feminist and advocate for the ancestral languages and wisdom, Aparicio had to learn one of her mother tongues - the Mixteco - to play the nanny character in Alfonso Cuarón's awarded film, 'Rome.'

In her speech at UNESCO, she toughly criticized the existing discrimination in many countries against indigenous people.

The actress also claimed for more gender equality and respect for women around the world.

After her nomination, Yalitza Aparicio is one of the most famous faces in the International Year of Indigenous Languages, joining the hoards of women ambassadors for peace, such as Rigoberta Menchú or the Cuban dancer Alicia Alonso.

The Mixteca 'Cinderella'

Many said when the Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón chose her to play her nanny Libo –Cleo in the movie-, Yalitza didn't even dream of being an actress.

It was an accident. 

She had come along with her sister to the cast in Oaxaca.  As her sister fell ill, she replaced her. And, suddenly, an unemployed school teacher who earned some money by helping her sister to make "piñatas" became a Hollywood movie star.

Being on the cover of Vogue Magazine, guest lecturer at MIT and one of the 100 most influential people, according to Forbes, Aparicio's worldwide representation of indigenous women, is no small achievement.

Will the young actress move from rhetoric to action as activists such as the Guatemaltecan and Peace Nobel Prize Rigoberta Menchu did?

Only time will tell.

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