The 8-pound, 24-karat gold plated statues that will be handed out Sunday evening at the 84th Annual Academy Awards were modeled after a Mexican man.
You read that right.
The most recognized trophy in the world known simply as “Oscar” is modeled after Mexican filmmaker and actor Emilio Fernandez.
Working in Hollywood, Fernandez befriended Mexican actress Dolores del Rio, then wife of studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s art director and Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences member Cedric Gibbons. Del Rio introduced Fernandez to Gibbons, who was in charge of supervising the statuette’s design.
Gibbons asked Fernandez to pose in the buff for a sketch to create the basis for the 8.5-pound trophy. Reluctantly, Fernandez did, and the design became the foundation for artist George Stanley’s famous sculpture of the statuette, given out at the very first Academy Awards in L.A. in 1929.
That design remains to this day.
The irony of it all is that only two Mexican actors have ever been nominated for an Oscar. This year’s best actor nominee Demián Bichir is the second Mexican (male) actor to be nominated in the 84-year history of the Oscars.
Across all categories only 11 out of 2,809 Oscar trophies have been awarded to Mexicans– and they’re mostly behind the scene awards.
The number of Mexicans in the Academy that gets to vote for who gets Oscars is also pretty low. Only 2% of Academy voters are Latino. Out of 5,100 Academy voters only about 100 are Latino—which probably leaves you with a dozen or three Mexicans in the mix.