Yalitza Aparicio Martínez was, until recently, a preschool teacher in Tlaxiaco, Oaxaca. Roma, her first-ever movie, changed that. In the film, she plays Cleo, a character who was inspired by the housekeeper who helped raise director Alfonso Cuarón when he was little. And to cement her arrival as a full-time actor, she has landed her first Vogue México cover, for the publication’s January 2019 issue.
It’s a beautiful image on every level: Aparicio rests in a vintage chair, clad in a dress from Dior’s latest collection. She looks directly at the camera, with a Mona Lisa gaze that could convey any mix of emotions. I saw pride, and happiness, and resilience. I also saw hair like mine and reflections of my aunts, and women who look like them. “In tiu’n ntav’i,” the cover reads in Mixtec language. A Star Is Born.
Aparicio’s cover may be one of the first times Vogue México has put a woman with indigenous features on its cover. A brief overview of the publication’s 20-year history showcases any number of tall, blonde supermodels; their being Latinx is not a requirement. (In 2018, Hailey Baldwin, Bella Hadid, Emily Ratajkowski, and Lexi Boling all nabbed covers.) And Aparicio’s presence was a welcome change to many. “Can we talk about how AMAZING this is? Vogue Mexico, y’all need to keep this going cuz I ain’t ever seen beautiful BROWN Mexican women on your covers before!” one person wrote on Instagram. “Una portada para la historia,” another said. A cover for the history books.
“Certain stereotypes are being broken: that only people with a certain profile can be actresses or be on the cover of magazines,” Aparicio said in the video that accompanied her Vogue cover. “Other faces are now being recognized. It is something that makes me so happy and proud of my roots.”