NHMC’s Brenda Victoria Castillo Quoted in NBC Latino News

Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ariana DeBose among 2022 Latino Oscar nominees

Aside from DeBose’s acting nomination for “West Side Story,” a Latina producer and a history-making Mexican American composer got Oscar nominations for “Encanto.”
Feb. 8, 2022, 8:44 AM PST / Updated Feb. 8, 2022, 4:29 PM PST
By Nicole Acevedo
Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ariana DeBose and other Latino artists have landed 2022 Oscar nominations.
DeBose, who is an Afro Latina of Puerto Rican descent, is nominated in the best supporting actress category for her performance reviving the iconic role of Anita in Steven Spielberg’s version of “West Side Story.” The movie also got a coveted best picture nomination.
Miranda’s tune “Dos Oruguitas” from Disney’s 60th animated feature film, “Encanto,” landed him a best original song nomination.
With this nomination, Miranda eyes a second shot at earning EGOT status — which is reserved for performers who have won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony Award.
“Encanto,” which tells the story of a multigenerational Colombian family whose children get magical powers on their fifth birthday, was nominated for best animated feature film — crediting the work of the movie’s sole Latina producer, Yvett Merino, who is Mexican American.
Latina film composer Germaine Franco also landed a best original score nomination for her work in “Encanto.” Franco, a Mexican American born in El Paso, was the first Latina to be invited to join the Motion Picture Academy and the first to win an Annie Award for her previous work scoring Disney’s animated feature film “Coco,” set in Mexico.
Mirabel Madrigal, voiced by Stephanie Beatriz, in a scene from “Encanto.”Disney
In a joint interview with NBC News last year, both DeBose and legendary actress Rita Moreno recognized how Anita has become an even more relevant Latina character six decades after the original “West Side Story” premiered.
Set in the 1950s, “West Side Story” centers on the rivalry between two teenage street gangs — the Jets, a white gang, and the Sharks, a Puerto Rican gang — as their communities faced displacement during New York City’s urban renewal period. Their rivalry intensifies when Tony, a Jet, falls in love with Maria, the young sister of Sharks leader Bernardo.
Anita, Bernardo’s girlfriend and Maria’s friend, is Puerto Rican like the rest of the Sharks. She stands out for her assertiveness and captivating dance skills.
“Anita is inherently a woman who knows her own mind. She’s a woman ahead of her time. She has agency, and she does speak up,” DeBose said. “In 1957 or 1961, that is an anomaly.”
Brenda Castillo, president and CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, a nonprofit organization working to increase Latino visibility in media, celebrated “DeBose’s recognition as the first Afro-Latino performer ever to receive an Oscar nomination,” she said in a statement.
Moreno has praised DeBose’s performance in Spielberg’s remake saying, “She’s a beautiful Anita in the movie.”
If DeBose wins her Oscar, she would join a small group of pairs of actors to win for playing the same character. Moreno won an acting Oscar for her portrayal of Anita in the 1961 film version of “West Side Story,” making history as the first Latina to win the honor.
The only pairs of actors who have won Oscars for playing the same movie roles are Marlon Brando and Robert De Niro for their performances as Vito Corleone in “The Godfather” and “The Godfather Part II,” respectively; and Heath Ledger and Joaquin Phoenix as the Joker in “The Dark Knight” and “Joker,” respectively.
DeBose and Moreno, who returned for Spielberg’s “West Side Story” remake as an executive producer and as Valentina, would be the first women and performers of color to join the rare club.
“She means a lot to me,” DeBose said of Moreno. “She means a lot to the Puerto Rican community. She means a lot to the Latino community and to the entertainment industry at large.”
“West Side Story” also landed Spielberg best director aside from the best picture nomination.
Actor Javier Bardem, who is from Spain, is nominated for best actor for his performance as trailblazing Latino entertainer Desi Arnaz in “Being The Ricardos” — a dramatic slice-of-life story centered on one of America’s most famous TV couples, Arnaz and Lucille Ball, as they face a series of crises that threaten their personal and professional lives. Arnaz was Cuban American.
Even though the team behind the film faced a fair amount of criticism for casting the European Bardem as one of the most defining Latino entertainers of all time, they defended his casting by saying that Spanish people are considered Hispanic.
The word “Hispanic,” which emerged in the 1960s, accounts for people who can trace their roots to Spain or Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America or the Caribbean. The word “Latino” emerged three decades later to include other Latin American countries where Spanish is not the dominant language, such as Brazil.
Bardem, who pursued the role of Arnaz for years, previously told NBC News he was interested in exploring the many layers that come with interpreting such a multifaceted performer and businessman, who revolutionized American television while embracing his Cuban roots at a time when the word “Hispanic” hadn’t even emerged.
“When we play real people, we want to get as close as we can to reality, but there’s a moment where you have to let that go,” Bardem said. “You have to express what the person is going through.”
Bardem’s wife, Penélope Cruz, is nominated for best actress for her performance in Pedro Almodóvar’s “Parallel Mothers.” Both Cruz and Almodóvar are from Spain.
In a statement to NBC News Tuesday afternoon, Bardem said he “couldn’t be happier to share this celebration with my talented wife.”
“To embody Desi Arnaz’s spirit was a privilege and an honor and to be connected to his energy and legacy is something I will never forget,” Bardem said. “Thank you to his family for trusting me with the responsibility of bringing this larger-than-life entertainer and entrepreneur to screen. Thank you to the Academy for this acknowledgement.”
Also up for best picture are “Nightmare Alley,” which was directed by Mexican filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro, as well as “CODA” and “Dune,” both of which count with high-profile Latino actors such as Eugenio Derbez and Oscar Isaac, respectively.
Several Latino filmmakers also landed nominations across other categories.
Mexican American filmmaker Carlos López Estrada landed Disney a second best animated feature film nomination for co-directing “Raya and the Last Dragon.”
Phil Lord, who is of Cuban descent, is also nominated in the same category for co-producing Netflix’s animated film “The Mitchells vs. the Machines.”
Another Mexican American filmmaker, K.D. Dávila, was nominated in the best live action short film category for her work in “Please Hold.”
Filmmakers Hugo Covarrubias and Tevo Díaz, who hail from Chile, were nominated for best animated short film for their work in “Bestia.”
“We are proud of the strides that Latinx creatives have made to bring our cultures to the global stage this year. However there is still much more work to be done,” Castillo said.
According to Nielsen’s latest Diversity Intelligence Series report, Latino representation is about 10 percent across streaming services and cable and broadcast networks (including Spanish-language ones), even though Latinos make up nearly 19 percent of the nation’s population.
“We call on the industry to continue to uplift and promote Latinx talent not just in front of but behind the camera, ensuring our stories — and the artists that tell them — are recognized for their excellence,” Castillo added.
The award ceremony will be held March 27 at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles and air live on ABC.
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Nicole Acevedo
Nicole Acevedo is a reporter for NBC News Digital. She reports, writes and produces stories for NBC Latino and NBCNews.com. Arturo Conde and Variety contributed.