Over the last two weeks, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has been releasing the names of the celebrities who will present at the 90th Academy Awards, taking place at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on March 4. The diverse crop of announcers includes Mahershala Ali, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Gina Rodriguez, but only one presenter will make history at the prestigious ceremony: Daniela Vega. The Chilean actress will be the first openly transgender person to present an award at the Oscars.
Vega stars as an opera singer mourning the death of her boyfriend in the critically acclaimed film A Fantastic Woman, which is nominated for Best Foreign Film. The actress, who’s exceptional vocal talent was discovered by a teacher, started her career at the age of eight as an opera singer. She went on to work in theatrical productions in Chile, and made her big screen debut in The Guest in 2014. Last month, the 28-year-old told Vanity Fair, “The fact that I am trans provides the script and narrative with a higher level of truth…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.”
Vega is not the only transgender artist who will make an historic stride at the Oscars this year. Yance Ford, the director of the Netflix film Strong Island, is the first openly transgender filmmaker nominated for an award at the iconic event. “If my making history makes it easier for a trans kid at home somewhere to feel more at home in their skin, then I’m so excited about that,” Ford, nominated in the Documentary Feature category, told the Los Angeles Times: “If I can use this moment to remind folks that trans people are subject to violence at greater rates than any other group in this country, I’m happy about that. If I can help one family embrace their child and not displace them and throw them out, I’m happy about that.”
The 90th Academy Awards will air live on ABC at 7 p.m. ET.