Faltas De Respeto: Lupe Ontiveros And Soledad O’Brien Get Slighted

By Arturo R. García

After nearly a week of protests, Lupe Ontiveros will take her place among Hollywood’s dearly departed.

Fox News Latino reported that Ontiveros will be included in an online memorial gallery put together by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.

But that’s likely only a partial salve for her being excluded from the televised tribute shown during Sunday’s Academy Awards.

“Everyone in the audience would have recognized Lupe from one film or another had she been included in that tribute,” cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz told NBC Latino. “For the Academy to disregard her is a way of letting Latinos know that they never saw her as anything but a maid–that they didn’t find her important. It’s a disservice to her great work.”

Alcaraz and others quickly pointed Ontiveros’ omission out ever since the broadcast. Her son, Elías, called it “disappointing.” And the family made a statement that read in part:

We believe the Academy and the show’s producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron made a poor decision in choosing not to acknowledge the passing of our mother in this tribute which traditionally has become an important part of the Academy Awards. We understand that she is only one of many noteworthy actors and industry veterans who passed away in 2012 that were not included in the segment, but we believe that her contributions and dedication of nearly forty years to the film industry were worthy of this honor.

Before her passing last year, Ontiveros estimated she played a maid in more than 150 projects, telling CNN’s Soledad O’Brien in 2009, “It’s disturbing, let me tell you. After 30-someodd years over and over and over again. I’m an educated person. I speak five languages. I am very capable of a lot more than they think I am.”

Speaking of O’Brien, it appears she is officially out as an anchor at CNN. Current TV host Cenk Uygur reported last week that while O’Brien might get to continue her work on documentaries like Latino In America and Black In America–which were at times, to put it kindly, inconsistent–she will not get to continue doing the work that had made her shine more recently: calling out conservatives, as she did in this December 2012 interview with Rep. Jeff Sessions (R-AL).

For its part, the network has already been working to quell suspicions that it believed O’Brien was attracting “too ethnic” of a viewership. (Warning: avoid all comments at that link–multiple sexual and racial slurs. Which is especially disturbing given that it’s a MediaBistro story.)

As Uygur said above, O’Brien’s was believed to have been replaced by Erin Burnett, but Mediaite reported on Wednesday that Burnett “is still in the running but far from a sure thing.”

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Racialicious is a blog about the intersection of race and pop culture. Check out our daily updates on the latest celebrity gaffes, our no-holds-barred critique of questionable media representations, and of course, the inevitable Keanu Reeves John Cho newsflashes.

Latoya Peterson (DC) is the Owner and Editor (not the Founder!) of Racialicious, Arturo García (San Diego) is the Managing Editor, Andrea Plaid (NYC) is the Associate Editor. You can email us at team@racialicious.com.

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  • Lala92

    wow, Ms.Lupe seemed like she could have been a terrific actor with the right roles. It’s totally unfair how she now never got the chance. I honestly think the reason why minority actors aren’t hired in film is that they are seen as potentially lowering and damaging the prestige of film studios and the films themselves. They are seen as less exclusive than white actors.