The 2018 Oscars are making waves and making history. Not only were the vestiges of #OscarsSoWhite beginning to be pushed away (beginning — let's not pretend there's full representation just yet), but Daniela Vega was the first openly transgender presenter at the Oscars. Ever. Needless to say, Twitter was loving this breaking down of barriers.
Firstly, you may be asking, "who is Daniela Vega and why was she up on the Oscars stage in the first place?" Vega's lead role in the 2017 movie A Fantastic Woman earned her some seriously great reviews from publications like The Guardian, Variety, and The New York Times. In the film, Vega plays a transgender woman who is involved in a relationship with an older cisgender man. He dies under mysterious circumstances, and suddenly, her whole life is turned upside down. The worst part? Her status as a trans woman makes her suspicious in the eyes of her boyfriend's family. A Fantastic Woman won the 2018 Oscar for Best Foreign Film on Sunday night, so to have that take home a prize and Vega up on the Academy Awards stage to present is truly inspiring to watch. Twitter took notice, showering Vega with praises.
Many Recognized The Importance Of Her Presence
What a big night.
They Gave Her Kudos For Her Journey, Too
I think her fan club just quadrupled.
Some Were Feeling Mighty Protective, Too
Don't mess with Vega fans.
Funnily enough, Vega wasn't even supposed to star in her Oscar-winning film. In an interview with Vanity Fair, Vega explained that she was originally brought onto the film as a consultant of sorts before she and director Sebastian Lelio realized that Vega's work on A Fantastic Woman could be more in front of the camera than behind it. Of spending time with Vega, Lelio said, “We’re noticing the script started to absorb a few things from Daniela. By the end of the writing process, I realized that she was the one—that Daniela was Marina.”
Besides earning amazing acting reviews for A Fantastic Woman, Vegas has other talents, too. She can sing — that's really her singing in the movie. Vega explained how she found that voice in an interview with W. She said:
"It’s my real voice in the film. My grandmother, my father’s mother, was blind. She taught me to listen to music, to the television, to the birds and the trees and the sound of water. She taught me to listen even though I could see. I find a lot of poetry in that, and it ended with me opening my ears to both sound and to music but also recognizing the most important thing to hear is silence... It was a self-discovery for me to move from imitating others to me growing to sing in my own voice. The opera was difficult and it felt like a personal conquest."
Coming out as trans is no easy feat — trans men and women face discrimination at every corner, and violence against trans men and women is growing at an alarming rate. For Vega, though, she gets a bit of a thrill from those close minded folks. Why? She realizes how powerful she actually is. “Fear is the driving force of all those reactions,” Vega told The Guardian. “It actually gives me a physical pleasure to annoy conservatives. I don’t have to be violent, I don’t have to insult anyone – my mere existence shakes those people up.”
Vega is a powerful person, and A Fantastic Woman would not be the same without a trans woman at its core. “The fact that I am trans provides the script and narrative with a higher level of truth,” Vega told Vanity Fair. “But, more importantly, it opens a door into the movie world that had never been explored before, because I am a trans actress playing a trans woman.” Well said.