When actors Lupita Nyong’o and Kumail Nanjiani appeared on stage at Sunday night’s Academy Awards ceremony, they not only presented the Oscar for Best Production Design, they sent a powerful message in support of fellow immigrants across the US.

“Like everyone in this room and everyone watching at home, we are dreamers,” Nyong'o said. “Dreams are the foundation of Hollywood and dreams are the foundation of America.” 

“So to all the dreamers out there, we stand with you,” Nanjiani continued.

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Nyong’o was born in Mexico and raised in Kenya and Nanjiani is from Pakistan, and their acknowledgment of all the “dreamers” was also a recognition of all the “Dreamers,” young undocumented immigrants brought to the US at a young age who are fighting to maintain legal status in the US. 

With Congress unable or unwilling to pass a bill recognizing the Dreamers, their future is in jeopardy.

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Though their memorable message captivated the worldwide Oscars audience, Nyong’o and Nanjiani were just two of the many immigrants who owned the Oscars Sunday night.

Read More: LGBTQ Refugees Face Unimaginable Trauma, But They’re Rising Up

Guillermo del Toro became the fourth Mexican director in just five years to win the award for Best Director. His film “The Shape of Water” also took home the top prize for Best Picture. 

Del Toro was one of several Mexicans and Mexican-Americans who presented, performed or spoke about justice and inclusion on Sunday. Eugenio Derbez, Natalia LaFourcade, Gael Garcia Bernal, Salma Hayek Pinault, and Eiza Gonzalez all took the stage. 

When Derbez introduced the song “Remember Me” from “Coco,” an animated film about a young Mexican musician who crosses into the Land of the Dead, he criticized the barriers — literal and figurative — that divide people around the world. 

“In the afterworld there are no walls,” Derbez said.

Later in the night, “Remember Me” took home the prize for Best Song and “Coco” won Best Animated Feature. 

Read More: This Year's Oscar Nominees for Best Documentary Should Not Be Missed

In addition to the array of Mexican and Mexican-American artists, “Star Wars” star Oscar Isaacs, who was born in Guatemala, and “A Fantastic Woman” star Daniela Vega — a native of Chile and the first transgender woman to present an Academy Award — all took the stage Sunday night. 

And Kazuhiro Tsuji, a Japanese makeup artist, became the first Asian person to win the Oscar for Best Hair and Makeup.


Demand Equity

Lupita Nyong’o, Kumail Nanjiani, and Their Fellow Immigrants Won the Oscars

By David Brand