Mexican actor Demian Bichir, who was nominated Tuesday morning for an Oscar in the Best Actor category for his role as a Mexican day laborer in the film "A Better Life," has dedicated his nomination to the millions of undocumented immigrants in the nation.
The drama portrays the life of an undocumented gardener, Carlos Gallindo, in East L.A. The gardener struggles to keep his teenage son on the straight-and-narrow and give him a chance at "a better life" after his wife abandoned the two of them after crossing the border into the United States.
"A Better Life" is rather timely given the contentious national debate over immigration.
Bichir’s portrayal of a Mexican day laborer brings the struggle of the "undocumented immigrant" to life. On Tuesday, Bichir issued a statement dedicating the nomination to the undocumented: "I dedicate this nomination to those eleven million human beings who make our lives easier and better in the U.S."
In an interview with Fox News Latino, Bichir said, "This issue [of immigration] is close to many of us... We are all immigrants and America was based on immigrants. But this film is not just an immigration movie." Above all, the film captures a father's unwavering love for his son.
“I'm overwhelmed for having my name among those incredible actors. This could have never happened if Chris Weitz had not been the head of this film. He is my brother and I thank him deeply,” Bichir said in a statement.
While Bichir may be a household name in the U.S. yet, the Mexican star has been acting since he was 14. He has played Esteban Reyes, the fictional mayor of Tijuana and husband of Mary-Louise Parker’s character in Weeds. Bichir also played two famous Latin American revolutionaries: Fidel Castro in Che: Part One and Che: Part Two and Emiliano Zapata in Zapata: Amor en Rebeldia, according to Time.com.
If nothing else, Bichir hopes the buzz surrounding his Oscar nomination will encourage people to see the film.
"Hopefully more and more people will jump into iTunes and Netflix to see our film. That will be the biggest reward we could get," said Bichir.
In the category for Best Actor, Bichir is up against George Clooney in "The Descendants", Jean Dujardin in "The Artist", Gary Oldman in "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" and Brad Pitt in "Moneyball".
According to the L.A. Times, Bichir is one of only a handful of Mexican actors and actresses to have scored Oscar nominations, including Anthony Quinn for "Wild is the Wind" (1957) and "Zorba the Greek" (1964) and Salma Hayek for Julie Taymor's 2002 bio-pic "Frida" about painter Frida Kahlo.
The first Hispanic actor to win an Academy Award for Best Actor was Puerto Rican Jose Ferrer in 1950 for his protrayal of Cryano de Bergerac.
The 84th Annual Academy Awards will air February 26 at 7 p.m. EST on ABC.