Here at People CHICA we celebrate our Latinidad 365 days a year, but during Latinx Heritage Month, we go extra hard. Established in 1988, Latinx Heritage Month recognizes the generations of Latinx Americans who have positively influenced and enhanced our society. All month long, we'll be celebrating with a series called #LatinXcellence, highlighting women who are making a difference in Latinx culture today through their art, work and activism.
Yalitza Aparicio's life changed drastically after her Oscar-nominated role in the Alfonso Cuarón film Roma. The Oaxaca native, 25, who worked as a preschool teacher and was really shy, suddenly became a world-famous actress who shined on magazine covers, red carpets and in prestigious ad campaigns. As Cleo, a Mexican domestic worker, she not only shed light on the lives of domestic workers like her own mother, but broke down racial barriers for indigenous women, opening new doors for women who look like her.
In 2019, Time magazine named her one of the 100 Most Influential People in the world, and Forbes México named her one of her country's Most Powerful Women. Her glam Vogue México cover made headlines, showing that indigenous women can be great fashion icons, and she has fought against racism, putting haters who have criticized her appearance in their place.
Challenges today don't seem to scare this once reserved woman, who liked to play soccer as a child and joined an all-boys team, wowing her playmates with her skills on the field. She has used her fame to be a voice for her community and help others. She joined UNESCO as a goodwill ambassador, becoming an advocate for gender equality and the rights of indigenous people.
The actress has also spoken out against domestic violence. "All women deserve respect. Violence against women is one of the most severe human rights violations and one of the most tolerated in the world. Women and girls suffer diverse types of violence in all areas of their lives and under multiple manifestations: in their home, public spaces, school, work, cyberspace, community, politics,”she wrote on Instagram, where she has over 2 million followers.
Aparicio, who also adorned People en Español's 50 Most Beautiful cover last year with other Latinx celebs, told the magazine: “The message my experience sends is to get out of your comfort zone, to take risks. Sometimes we have opportunities right in front of us but we refuse to take them. If I'm here today it's because I've always shown myself as I am. I don't have to change anything about myself. I love myself, I respect myself, I love my skin color, all in me is perfect and has been enough for me.”
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