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Entertainment & Arts

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and ‘Roma’ star Yalitza Aparicio unite for domestic workers

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) recently met with actress Yalitza Aparicio.
(Alex Wong / Getty Images)

“Roma” breakout star Yalitza Aparicio already made major strides for domestic workers by representing them onscreen in Alfonso Cuarón’s Oscar-winning film. Now, the indigenous Mexican actress and former schoolteacher is taking her activism a step further by advocating for the domestic worker community.

Aparicio recently united with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) in Washington, D.C., to discuss domestic workers’ rights. Following their meeting, the pair of trailblazing Latinas praised each other on social media and vowed to support domestic workers worldwide.

For the record:
1:07 PM, Feb. 26, 2020 An earlier version of this story said Yalitza Aparicio was the first indigenous woman to be nominated for a lead actress Oscar. She is the first such nominee from the Americas. New Zealand’s Keisha Castle-Hughes, who is Maori, was a lead actress nominee in 2004 for “Whale Rider.”

“ ‘When you fight for the rights of domestic workers, it’s not only for and by those women, but also so that their children can have a better future.’ These inspiring words from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez I will hold forever in my heart,” Aparicio wrote in Spanish on Wednesday.

“I had the honor of meeting this strong, talented and brave woman who works day after day to improve the social conditions in her country. Thanks to our meeting, we can listen to each other and share our point of view about the rights of domestic workers.”

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On Twitter, the feeling was mutual.

“It was an honor to meet you, @YalitzaAparicio,” Ocasio-Cortez replied, also in Spanish, to a tweet from Aparicio echoing her warm Instagram sentiments. “You are an inspiration for women and workers around the world. Thank you for the conversation. Together, we fight for the rights of domestic workers.”

In 2018’s “Roma,” Aparicio starred as Cleo, a timid and resilient young woman working in the household of a middle-class family in Mexico. The critically acclaimed drama garnered praise for its realistic portrayal of a domestic worker’s plight as seen through Cleo’s eyes.

Since lending her talents to the Netflix awards darling, which earned her a historic Oscar nomination for lead actress, Aparicio has used her newly elevated platform to amplify the voices of women, indigenous peoples and domestic workers across the globe. She was also recently featured in the Netflix documentary “Road to Roma,” which explored the inspirations behind Cuarón’s semi-autobiographical, boundary-breaking work.

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It’s a story that reads like a fairy tale: Yalitza Aparicio, a young teaching college student, attends a casting call in her hometown of Tlaxiaco, Mexico, at the urging of her older sister.

Last year, both Aparicio and Ocasio-Cortez made Time magazine‘s coveted list of most influential people. The former is the first indigenous woman from the Americas to be nominated for lead actress at the Academy Awards; the latter, the youngest woman ever to serve in Congress.

In a 2019 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Aparicio acknowledged the heightened responsibility she now carries and shared her hopes for more social change as a result of her achievements.

“Perhaps I haven’t fully absorbed the Oscar nomination,” she said, “but I know that everything that I am doing — if I do something wrong, they might think we are all that way. So I have to take good care of that image, our image.”

Times staff writer Dorany Pineda contributed to this report.


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