Chilean actress and singer Daniela Vega made history Sunday night as the first openly transgender person to present at the Academy Awards.
Vega, 28, introduced a musical performance by Sufjan Stevens, whose song "Mystery of Love" from the film "Call Me by Your Name" was nominated for Best Original Song. And that wasn't the only highlight of Vega's Oscars debut. "A Fantastic Woman," in which Vega plays a transgender woman mourning the death of her partner, won Best Foreign Film.
"Thank you so much for this moment," Vega said before introducing Stevens.
"I want to invite you to open your hearts and your feelings to feel the reality. To feel love. Can you feel it?"
Vega also rocked the red carpet in a fuschia chiffon gown by Maria Lucia Hohan, which Bustle described as "just the pop of colour the red carpet needed." The bright gown had a halter neck top, cinched waist, and a ruffled skirt.
In an interview with W Magazine just before the awards show, as her style team worked on her hair and makeup, Vega said she felt "ready."
"I feel very honoured to be part of this beautiful moment in history. I feel so, so happy," she said.
"It's something very special, something important, because when you unlock the door, the idea is that the door stays open."
Vega has experienced discrimination in Chile
Vega plays title character Marina in writer-director Sebastián Lelio's "A Fantastic Woman." In the film, set in Santiago, Marina grapples to put her life back together after her older boyfriend dies suddenly in a country with very little support for trans people.
Chile is an extremely socially conservative country that only legalized divorce 14 years ago, according to the Associated Press. But the country has made some recent strides, adopting a law to bar discrimination and hate crimes in 2012, and another to recognize same-sex unions in 2015, the Associated Press reports.
In January, a bill that would allow transgender Chileans to legally change their name or gender without surgery or a court order passed through congress, but still has to go before the Senate, according to LGBT news source Washington Blade.
"There is a lot of discrimination from the government in my country because there are no laws that allow us to do a normal transition, and to do it safely. There's no public policy that supports the rights of trans people," Vega told the L.A. Times in November 2017.
"There was a lot of psychological violence in my life as well when I was looking for jobs. That is also part of the violence executed by the government on trans people because we should feel safe going out to look for a job."
Fans commended the actress
On Twitter, fans of Vega commended the actress — who has said she is the only transgender actress in all of Chile — for her achievements.
Psyched for #AFantasticWoman winning the Best Foreign Film at #Oscars. While H'wood and B'wood openly cast cisgender actors to play trans characters, Chile emerges as a winner with #DanielaVega. https://t.co/hveAmKSF1E— Mrinal Sharma (@Mr_In_Al) March 5, 2018
"With professionalism #DanielaVega is representing an entire country before the world with a passport that does not respect her name or gender. She represents a country whose laws violate her human rights. Enough of the abuses and hypocrisy! Gender ID law now!" https://t.co/RtbuJpCqJx— Débil Man (@33mhz) March 5, 2018
Vega told the L.A. Times she hopes more transgender actors will "take their own path."
"I would like more trans people to take their own path. And those of us that have been paving the way for others and opening doors, we need to continue to keep those doors open for the next generation," she said.
"But a question is, why is it just now that trans individuals are starting to run next to people who have always had those opportunities to play the main roles. Why is that just happening?"