Since Sunday night’s Oscar telecast the interwebs have exploded with fury about the omission of Lupe Ontiveros in the Academy’s In Memoriam segment. I didn’t think to add my 2 cents until right now because frankly I wasn’t surprised at all. But now I got something I think worth sharing. I was combing through my computer for some video and I ran into this clip I took of the late great Lupe at last year’s NALIP where she delivered a moving speech in her irresistible, witty, loving spicy way to bestow the Lifetime Achievement Award to Rita Moreno. You know what I get out of this? It’s our responsibility and ours alone to value and recognize our people. Are we really so appalled and shocked that the Academy denied her membership? What good is it to ask the Academy to explain and question their commitment to Latinos? I suppose it could be looked as a tongue in cheek PR move because clearly that is not on their list of To Do’s, let alone their sensibility. What really gets me is that it seems like we are seeking validation from an elite society of homogenized, old white males, half of them retirees. I believe the significance of the Academy Award is more an antiquated status symbol, a vestige of show business like the stars in my neighborhood’s Hollywood Walk of Fame, than a recognition of achievement.
If this incident serves to fuel and spill our community’s amor and tribute to La Dona Lupe’s legacy, that is indeed a positive. But hear her words in this clip. How she shares her sincere admiration, love and respect for Rita Moreno. It makes me think, its more beautiful, powerful and honest when we ourselves elevate and commend our mentors, peers and younger generation. Another key observation in this clip; Notice Lupe calling out Ms. Moreno by way of inviting her to be part of NALIP, essentially pointing out that this highest Entertainment Awarded Puerto Rican woman, is not part of the National Association of Latino Producers, a grassroots organization which struggles but continues to support a young crop of filmmakers with labs, workshops and development opportunities. “Show up once a year”, Lupe says. ” We need figures like you.”
Goes to show that there are members of the Academy who are brown. I take more issue with the Hollywood Latinos who having personally faced and overcome barriers and stereotypes, yet once on the inside, don’t take the obligation or responsibility seriously as self identified Latinos, to keep the gates open.