Who’s the man behind the Oscar statuette?

Oscar statue
and last updated 2023-03-12 15:35:10-04

The official name is the Academy Award of Merit but in 1939 the academy adopted the nickname "Oscar."

Emilio “El Indio” Fernández, a very well-known Mexican actor and filmmaker who used the nickname “the Indian” to embrace his Kickapoo roots, claimed to be the model for the trophy during his stay in Hollywood in the 1920s.

So, could it be that the Oscar is actually “El Oscar”?

“The academy has never acknowledged Emilio's contribution, but Emilio was very adamant,” said Guillermo Reyes.

Reyes is a professor at The Sidney Poitier New American Film School at Arizona State University and one of his classes is about the Oscars.

“He was best friends with Dolores del Rio who was married to the designer Cedric Gibbons, so Emilio claims Cedric made him pose and then that’s how Cedric came out with the design that he’ll later hand over to the sculptor George Stanley,” said Reyes.

The story has never been confirmed by the academy, but physically they are similar.

“He had also been a soldier. He came right during the Mexican Revolution. He was abandoning the revolution actually, so yeah he was fit.”

Whether true or not, the whole idea of having a Latino representing such important awards makes some people excited.

“That is fascinating. I think there would be just a number of people that would love the story of all Latinx culture, especially Mexicanos and Chicanos,” said Angela Giron.

Giron is an assistant professor at ASU and an actress, but also an Oscar aficionado.

“I always get dressed for the Oscars. I just like it, you know. I don't care if I'm even by myself watching it on television I always get dressed and [make a] triple sec chilled,” said Giron.

She says this year will be special.

“I have worked with an Oscar winner who was nominated again this year for best actor, Gary Oldman. I played his paralegal secretary in 'Criminal Law' which also stars Kevin Bacon, so anybody that talks to me is six degrees of separation.”

Talking about six degrees of separation, ABC15 found out during this interview that Reyes and Giron know each other and that it is a tradition for them to watch the Oscars together.

“I don’t have a 'tux'. I can put on a shirt and a tie, we’ll see, as long as there’s champagne, I'll be fine,” expressed Reyes.

Both hope to see more diversity this year.

“The film industry is allowing slowly, but it is allowing for the face of America to come true and that’s why I think I’m hopeful for the future,” stated Reyes.

Sign up for the Headlines Newsletter and receive up to date information.