Roma’s Yalitza Aparicio had never acted before. Now she’s in one of the year’s buzziest films.

The newcomer ended up as the star of Alfonso Cuarón’s most personal film.

By Alissa Wilkinson Please visit Twitter account here: @alissamariealissa and

Yalitza Aparicio was studying to become a preschool teacher when her sister encouraged her to attend a film audition. A native of Mexico’s Oaxaca region, she had never acted before. When she arrived, Aparicio had no idea what the film was about; even after she landed the role, she didn’t know all the details.

But once she looked them up, she realized it was Roma, and that its director was Alfonso Cuarón — one of the most celebrated directors not just in Mexico or Hollywood but the world. Cuarón is best known for films like Children of MenGravity, and Y Tu Mamá También, and now he was planning to make a personal film, shot in his native Mexico City and centered on the story of a woman named Libo, who worked for his family and helped raise him. In Roma, Aparicio would play Cleo, the character modeled on Libo herself.

Even for a seasoned actress, the role would have been a steep challenge, especially since Cuarón often did not distribute information about upcoming scenes until days or even hours before they were filmed — even for some of the movie’s most poignant moments. But Aparicio was up to the task, and she delivered a performance that has been winning praise since the film’s debut on the festival circuit.

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Photo and Credits: Yalitza Aparicio (center) is at the heart of Roma, written and directed by Alfonso Cuarón. Carlos Somonte  Please visit Twitter account on @CarlosSomonte / and Netflix on@netflix