Brings Plenty: Malek’s Oscar-winning performance can inspire young people of color

Rami Malek winning an Oscar for Bohemian Rhapsody is important to people of color everywhere.

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Brings Plenty: Malek’s Oscar-winning performance can inspire young people of color

Hollywood, CA/ USA - July 26, 2018: Oscar golden award in a souvenir store on Hollywood Boulevard. Success and victory concept

Hollywood, CA/ USA - July 26, 2018: Oscar golden award in a souvenir store on Hollywood Boulevard. Success and victory concept

Getty Images

Hollywood, CA/ USA - July 26, 2018: Oscar golden award in a souvenir store on Hollywood Boulevard. Success and victory concept

Getty Images

Getty Images

Hollywood, CA/ USA - July 26, 2018: Oscar golden award in a souvenir store on Hollywood Boulevard. Success and victory concept

Maleaha Brings Plenty, Opinions Columnist

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Rami Malek won the Oscar for Best Actor for his role as Freddie Mercury in the 2018 biopic Bohemian Rhapsody on Feb. 24. He is the first person of Arab descent to win this prestigious award. This is a huge step forward for people of color. Not only did we get a spectacular biopic about Indian-Parsi Freddie Mercury that shed light on his racial and sexual identity, but we also got to see the first person of Arab heritage take home this award.

Throughout history, the film industry has been a very white-oriented field. Over recent years, however, more people of color are taking up space in the field. With recent movies such as Moonlight, Coco, and Crazy Rich Asians, diverse actors and movies telling diverse stories are beginning to be at the forefront of the film industry. This is creating space for upcoming diverse actors, directors, and storytellers.

This shows young creators that their stories are worth telling and that they, too, can win Oscars and Golden Globes. It also shows young audiences that their stories are important and can help them feel included.

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In particular, Bohemian Rhapsody has had this effect. As a gay Native American woman, seeing the story of a gay Indian-Parsi man being told on the big screen was important. It made me feel that stories similar to my own are important and worthy of respect. Telling his story is also important to other young LGBTQ people and people of color. Not only is seeing stories such as this important, but also seeing these movies be nominated for prestigious awards is just as important, if not more so.

Malek winning six awards for his role as Freddie Mercury — one of which is a Golden Globe and the other an Oscar — is a large step forward.

This shows young creators and actors that diverse actors are just as worthy of these awards as everybody else. It can serve as inspiration to young people everywhere, showing that they, too, can win awards like this, no matter their background. Him being the first person of Arab descent to win this award can inspire young Arab people everywhere, and this is vitally important.

Inspiring young people to speak up and share their stories can and will provide diversity into Hollywood and the film industry. Seeing many different stories and perspectives being told can bring light to important topics. While this may seem unimportant as it’s simply one person winning awards, it can have a ripple effect. This can inspire many young people to get into acting and directing. It also can help young people feel represented, which is something that is vitally important to their mental health.

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While this may seem like just a movie at the end of the day, it’s so much more than that, particularly for those in the marginalized groups that are being represented. Movies telling diverse stories are ones that deserve attention and recognition at prestigious award shows such as the Oscars.

I hope this win inspires creators everywhere and that we can see even more diverse stories being told and even more diverse actors, directors, and writers win Oscars and Golden Globes for these movies. I hope Malek has inspired a generation of creators who will diversify Hollywood and the film industry.

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