Yalitza Aparicio has taken the movie industry by storm, surprising everyone with her fast rise to fame. These photos show her timeless beauty and are the best way for the world to see what true Mexican beauty looks like.
By Corina Mendoza
Beyond the designer clothes and the makeup, the following candid photos of Yalitza Aparicio show why she is a true Mexican beauty.
Aparicio went to a casting completely unaware of how the movie business works, or how to stand in front of a camera. She was there out of curiosity, encouraged by her sister.
As it so often happens, fate works in strange ways, and things simply fell into place, like all rivers that always end up in the ocean.
For Aparicio and her family, the secrecy in which Alfonso Cuaron managed the project was highly suspicious, especially in a country with such a high rate of femicides and kidnappings.
"My family kept saying: 'What if it's a kidnapping scheme? What if they take the girls away?' but little by little, the people in charge of the production got closer to my family and convinced them."
After some time, and several filters, they were still suspicious, even when it was revealed that it was all about a new film by none other than Alfonso Cuarón, so she went online to find out about his career. Not even meeting him in person was enough to assuage her fears:
"When I met him I just couldn't believe it was him, he looked different, he looked very thin. And so, I told my mom: 'Let's go, they are trying to trick us.' But she reassured me that things would be ok."
And thus, from something that started out almost as a joke, she made it all the way to the red carpets and awards shows of Hollywood, doing exclusive interviews and photoshoots that showcase her as a prime example of natural beauty and Mexican pride.
What Cuaron achieved with Roma was to retrieve the core of reality and nature that is all around us, and the true love that we all show to those we love. For Aparicio, her job was to listen carefully to Cuaron's instructions, become a part of the crew, and act accordingly:
"When I arrived, I told myself: 'Remember, you just lived through this or that situation, but now you have to focus on the children.' With the family, I told myself: 'Let's see, how should I react to this, how could I support them in the situation'."
Cleo, Aparicio's character, is the pillar of the family, a domestic worker who not only cleans the house, but also offers her warmth, her solutions, and her love to those she loves so dearly:
"I had to take care of my siblings; but my mom was really a nanny. She was a domestic worker, and she has had to take care of and raise children. Sometimes those children would tell me: 'Don't touch my mommy!,' and I had to say: 'She is my mom too!'"
She has been living a real-life dream since she started working with Cuaron, but her time on the spotlight has not been without its bad moments. "Yali," though, dismisses those, especially when they are personal attacks against her:
"I have only taken the good things that come my way. That always makes you stronger."
After Vanity Fair published their Hollywood photo shoot, the negative, discriminatory, and racist comments came in a landslide. That goes to show that the supposed openness of Mexican society is just a mask hiding layers upon layers of toxicity.
But Aparicio's optimism, innocence, and freshness (something we could all learn from) keep her impervious to criticism:
"In the movie, there is a strong message against discrimination, about recovering the humanity in all of us, but that is something we all need to work on. It will not change overnight."
One of the things she appreciates the most after becoming a star is that people see themselves in her:
"I am not the 'Woman Of The Year', but I am very happy to be here, and to see that so many people relate to me and see me as an inspiration, that is enough to make me happy."
What Alfonso Cuaron tried to convey with Roma was how important women are for society because women are in charge of raising the people who will be the leaders of the future. For him, this is a crucial topic, and inspired by his own childhood, he gave Aparicio the key to our hearts, and to help us accept the role of women as the ones who hold the world together.
She represents a much-need breath of fresh air in the movie industry. Her clean gaze makes us look at things from a fresh perspective:
"What I found most surprising was all the work involved in making movies, things you sometimes don't take into account. I realized that all the people that work in a movie work very hard, and thanks to that, you get great characters. I learned a lot from Alfonso. Something I am very thankful for is that he taught me to trust myself, to realize that I can do things I thought were impossible. It is amazing."
This is what has caught the media's eye and got her the New Hollywood Award, the no. 1 spot in the List of Top Actresses in Time Magazine, and an Oscar nomination, among others.
But for her, there is life away from the cameras, as for the future, she says:
"I am not really thinking about that. That was something that worried me a lot at the beginning, but now I just try to enjoy things as they come. If this happens again, it would be incredible, and if it doesn't, it was a wonderful experience. The simple fact that many people can see me in the movie I believe is already great inspiration for them to keep fighting for whatever they want: that is a great reward for me."
For her, the entire experience has taught her one big lesson: we can all achieve our dreams, no matter where we start in life. Nothing is impossible.
Aparicio knows there is a long road ahead of her, and the journey is far from over, but while she is living the dream, she is very aware that once she goes back to her hometown, reality is waiting for her. Nothing will have really changed.
That's also why she is not concerned about racist comments or negative criticism. She knows the life she has had, and that the place where she is now is just a reward, a gift from fate that might never happen again, but she is grateful for it anyway.
"I learned many things from this. First of all, to trust myself and to realize that I can do many things. I wish people realized that too: that there are no limits, that it doesn't matter if you are a woman, or indigenous, or poor: there are no limits. You have to fight for your dreams and fulfill your dreams."
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For more articles about Roma and other Mexican movies, click on these:
10 Latino Actors And Actresses You Should Keep An Eye On This 2019
5 Great Movies About Mexico City That Aren't Roma
The Faces On Vanity Fair's 25th Hollywood Issue Celebrate A Changing Industry