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Yalitza Aparicio Forges Ahead With Luis Mandoki’s ‘Presencias,’ Apple TV+’s ‘Midnight Family’

Yalitza Aparicio Forges Ahead With Luis Mandoki’s ‘Presencias,’ Apple TV+’s ‘Midnight Family’

The Venice premiere of Alfonso Cuarón’s 2018 drama “Roma” made an overnight star of Yalitza Aparicio, whose memorable performance as family nanny Cleo kicked off a three-month whirlwind that culminated with her becoming the first Indigenous Mexican to receive an Oscar nomination for best actress.

Four years on, little has been seen of her. This week, however, Aparicio returns to the screen via a decidedly more low-key premiere, playing a supporting role in Luis Mandoki’s modest horror film “Presencias,” which TelevisaUnivision-owned ViX+ is screening for buyers in Toronto.

Talking via Zoom from Mexico, Aparicio appears both nervous and excited about her return to the spotlight, apologizing (unnecessarily) for still requiring an English translator. Shifting gear from prestige period drama to low-budget horror-thriller “definitely was a tremendous challenge for me,” she says. “One which, in fact, I’ve had to face with terror at times, to bring forth the type of acting needed for the role. It has definitely made me nervous. But I’m very glad that I’ve taken on the challenge.”

While her supporting role in “Presencias” is unlikely to accelerate her career, the lower-key, lower-stakes return is perhaps a smart approach for an actress who, having been saddled with a tremendous weight of expectation, acknowledges real trepidation about returning to the fold.

Two far larger credits loom on the horizon, offering her a real chance to establish herself as an actor.

Aparicio stars in “Midnight Family,” Apple TV+’s first original Spanish-language drama, which is currently shooting in Mexico City. Based upon Luke Lorentzen’s 2019 docu of the same name, the 10-parter follows a by-day medical student as she navigates Mexico’s by-night cutthroat private ambulance industry. Produced by Fremantle and Fabula, Natalia Beristáin (“The Mosquito Coast”) serves as showrunner with Pablo Larraín (“Spencer”) as EP.

She will also appear in Netflix’ 2023-slated comedy “The Great Seduction,” directed by Celso García (“The Thin Yellow Line”). The Mexico-shot feature co-stars Memo Villegas and Mercedes Hernández.

Through these, Aparicio will aim to avoid the so-called “Oscar’s curse.”

For one thing, Aparicio credits industry progress in offering more and better work to actors from underrepresented communities, thanks to organizations such as the Latinx House.“I think I’m fortunate,” she says, “thanks to the developments we’re seeing in terms of diversifying where the film industry is currently at. I feel I have the opportunity to go and see exactly what it is I want to do with the different roles and different scripts that I’m being offered.”

She adds that, having become famous for playing a maid, she has worked to avoid the sort of typecasting that so often gets thrown at Hispanic actresses. “I think a lot about what I am expected to do, and about how actors can be labeled, so to speak, for playing a certain kind of character, or a certain type of performance,” she says. “But I’ve been fortunate enough to have had, and still do have, the option to choose the roles I want to interpret. I can say yes or no. And I’m glad to say I’ve had many offers of different sorts.”

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