Natalie Portman took the stage at the 84th Annual Academy Awards on Sunday to announce the year’s Best Actor nominees. When she introduced Demián Bichir for his role in “A Better Life,” she identified his character as an “undocumented immigrant”–and not with the pejorative ‘illegal’ term.
Speaking to Bichir, Portman said, “You created so much empathy for another human being that we all left the theater looking at the world differently. As Carlos Galindo, an undocumented immigrant fighting to give his son the opportunities he never had, you made us face very true portrait of a human being no one had ever dared us to consider before.”
“It was very meaningful for Natalie Portman to say ‘undocumented immigrant’ in a room full of people that may be accustomed to hearing the i-word. Whether her own or that of the writers, it was a meaningful choice that shows progress, and it would have been impossible for her to talk about the dignity and depth in Demian Bichir’s portrayal had she used the i-word,” said Mónica L. Novoa, campaign coordinator for the Drop the I-Word Campaign.