Daniela Vega makes Oscars history as first openly transgender presenter
Daniela Vega, star of Oscar-winning film A Fantastic Woman, quietly made history at the Academy Awards Sunday night. The actress emerged on stage to introduce Sufjan Stevens’s performance of “Mystery of Love” from Call Me By Your Name — making her the first openly transgender Oscars presenter.
“Thank you so much for this moment,” Vega said, taking the stage. “I want to invite you to open your hearts and your feelings to feel the reality, to feel love. Can you feel it?”
Vega’s experience inspired A Fantastic Woman, which took home the statuette for Best Foreign Language Film. Though she was snubbed from the Best Actress category, her director, Sebastián Lelio, thanked her in accepting the award.
“I want to thank the cast of the film, especially the brilliant actor Francisco Reyes Morandé and the inspiration for this movie, Daniela Vega,” he said. “This film was made by a lot of friends and artists. I share this with all of you tonight.”
Speaking to reporters backstage after his win, Lelio remarked, “I felt that, for me, it was [a] very instinctive and strong decision knowing that I was not going to make this film without a transgender actress in main role, that was me, and that put [the] film in a different dimension because of everything that Daniela brought to the film. … That doesn’t mean someone like Daniela can’t interpret a cisgender role, you know what I mean?”
To EW prior to the Oscars ceremony, Vega said of her film’s role within the larger transgender community, “The mission of the movie is to make sure our emotions are reconnected, because [we’re often] silenced. Art is key to unlocking those doors of [understanding.]”
Armie Hammer and Tiffany Haddish, two more of the noticeably snubbed actors from the nominations, were also among the star-studded list of presenters. Meanwhile, Yance Ford, the filmmaker behind Best Documentary Feature nominee Strong Island, made history as the first openly trans director to be recognized with a nomination at the Oscars.
Watch Vega’s moment in the video above.