Actress and theatre professor Alma Martinez ’84 was inducted into the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) last fall. She joined 21 other Latino celebrities—including Rosario Dawson, Jennifer Lopez, and Danny Trejo—invited to join the Academy in 2013.
Listen to a recent interview with Martinez on NPR.
In April of last year, members of National Latino Media Council and the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts met with representatives of AMPAS to discuss ways in which to increase Latino representation within the organization. The meeting was sparked after an outcry from the Latino community when the Academy left out Lupe Ontiveros from the “In Memoriam” tribute at the Oscars. Ontiveros, a longtime Whittier resident, starred in movies like “The Goonies” and “As Good As It Gets.”
“I can’t remember a time in our recent history where there has been so much Latino political activism occurring simultaneously across so many fields and across the country,” said Martinez. “I received a letter inviting me to become a member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences. To say I [was] elated is an understatement.”
Among other privileges, members have the opportunity to vote on the recipients of the Academy Awards.
A 2012 Los Angeles Times study of Oscar voters found that 94 percent of the Academy’s 5,765 members are Caucasian and 77 percent male, with Latino members comprising less than 2 percent of total membership.
In 2013, Martinez recurring guest-star role on the new one-hour dramatic series The Bridge that appears on F/X. Martinez also recently initiated a production of Zoot Suit, a play written and directed by Luis Valdez, with the National Theatre Company of Mexico in Mexico City. She served as US-Mexico Project Coordinator and also performed. The play went on to win the “Best (Mexican) Musical of the Year” by the Association of Theatre Journalists, the first for a non-Mexican play.