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A Win For Representation: O Yeong-su and Latina Stars Finally Receive the Flowers They Deserve


The Golden Globes was a private affair this year after the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s (HFPA) reputation was tarnished following a year of scandals. While the HFPA’s board members are not diverse enough, this year’s winners list proved to be a success for representation.

Sunday night saw Latinas win big at the awards and make history in the process. Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story won three globes, even scoring the Best Motion Picture Musical award. The modern remake saw a cast of largely centred Latinx performers, rectifying the flaws of the original 1961 film. The musical marvel, Ariana DeBose, also received the award for Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture Musical for her portrayal of Anita in the Shakespeare-inspired adaptation. This comes 50 years after Rita Moreno, the executive producer of the remake, became the first Latina to win an Oscar for the same role in the original movie.

Newcomer, Rachel Zegler has surely made an impact with her critically acclaimed performance in Spielberg’s West Side Story. The Golden Globes recognised her talents, awarding her the Best Actress in a Motion Picture Musical for her lead role as Maria. This made her the first actress of Colombian descent, the first Latina and the youngest winner in that category at only 20-years-old.

As the awards were not broadcast, Rachel wrote her acceptance speech on Instagram: “Our industry has and continues to have so many important discussions about how to properly represent its audience, and I truly believe our movie did just that.” On Twitter, she went on to reminisce on how her win marks a full-circle moment. She said: “I got cast as maria in west side story on 1/9/19. and I just won a golden globe for that same performance, on 1/9/22. life is strange [sic].” Her career is off to a great start and there’s more to look forward to as she is set to star as Snow White in the live-action adaptation of the first Disney Princess film.

The most historic win of the night became a global celebration as MJ (Michaela Jaé) Rodriguez received the award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Drama Television Series. The Pose star became the first openly transgender actress to win a Golden Globe after her stellar performance as Blanca Evangelista, a young transgender housemother providing support to LGBTQ youth rejected by their families. The FX tv show is known for its barrier-breaking characters and storylines, focusing on the New York LGBTQ ball scene during the 1980s and 90s. Last year, she already made history after becoming the first transgender nominee for a lead acting Emmy.

However, it was this year that the 31-year-old beat off her strong competitors for the award - including the decorated Jennifer Aniston and Elisabeth Moss. MJ paid tribute to her fellow nominees by writing on Instagram: “To the nominees, we are Queens. I’m so happy to share space with you! Each and every last one of you women are phenomenal.” Her win is particularly important as there is a lack of transgender representation on screens both big and small, which the latter is reportedly decreasing in the US.

Celebrating on Instagram, MJ penned a heartwarming note: “This is the door that is going to open the door for many more young talented individuals. They will see that it is more than possible. They will see that a young Black Latina girl from Newark, New Jersey, who has a dream, to change the minds [of] others WITH LOVE. LOVE WINS. To my Young LGBTQAI babies, WE ARE HERE. The door is now open. Now reach the stars!!!!!”

MJ continues to kick doors open for many marginalised communities. She not only represents trans women of colour but also Afro-Latinas on the small screen. A beacon of hope for the change we need in how the entertainment industry perceives talent. This will pave the way for better representation moving forward and “even more wins in the future,” says MJ.

Another long-overdue win was snagged by the incredible O Yeong-su, who played Oh II-nam, also known as Player 00, in the Netflix hit series, becoming the first-ever South Korean performer to win a Golden Globe. In a fierce category, O Yeong-su was triumphant as he was awarded the Best Supporting Actor in Series, beating out the likes of Ted Lasso’s Brett Goldstein and Succession’s Kieran Culkin. The 77-year-old star is a respected stage actor in South Korea but this is his first nomination and win in a major western award show. His fellow castmates have congratulated O online in a stream of endearing Instagram posts. Lee Jung Jae, the lead actor of the dystopian series, posted a picture of the pair on set, saying: “II Nam teacher, congratulations. Every scene I did with you was an honor [sic]. Starting from being you gganbu.”

Lee Byung-hun also celebrated O on Instagram saying, “Bravo!”. Meanwhile, Lim Joo-ryeong, who played Han Mi-neyo, said: “Heartiest congratulations to you, sire. Stay healthy always.” Yeong-su’s character was a fan favourite due to his comedic spirit. Netflix confirmed that Squid Game was its “biggest-ever series at launch”, a title previously held by Shonda Rhimes’ Bridgerton. Since its a worldwide success, the show’s creator, Hwang Dong-hyuk has been in discussions with the streaming giant about a potential second and third season. This is yet to be confirmed, but for now, fans are highly anticipating an announcement, to see their favourite characters back on screen.

In the wake of the diversity controversy surrounding the HFPA, there were many other notable wins during this year’s awards. Disney’s Encanto was named Best Animated Picture and Jane Campion became the third woman to receive Best Director for the critically acclaimed Netflix drama, The Power of The Dog.

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