Germaine Franco makes history as first Latina in Oscars history to be nominated for Best Original Score

HOUSTON, Texas – Germain Franco made history with her nomination for Best Original Score in the Disney movie “Encanto”. She spoke to ABC13 from her home in Los Angeles where she works as a film composer. Franco, who graduated from Rice University in 1984, spoke proudly of her university.

Win or lose, Franco has already made history at the Oscars, becoming the first Latina and the only 6th woman in Oscar history to be nominated for Best Original Score. Her work on Disney’s “Encanto” won her the nod.

Franco said, “Being the first Latina, the first woman of color … to be nominated, I feel we are, you know, proud to represent our Latins.”

She went on to explain how much this moment means, not just to her, but to women everywhere.

“We are here and we have a vision, we have a voice and being a member of the Academy is very important,” Franco said.

Franco grew up in El Paso before moving to Houston for school. Her time at Rice University helped her on this journey, as she immersed herself in music 12 hours a day, practicing to perfect her talent. There he also learned how to play in an orchestra.

Franco said, “I did orchestrations, I started writing for my own band. While I was in Rice I played in so many bands and I was in the Marching Owl Band.”
She tells us that she started playing music at a very young age and she liked playing percussion. Eventually, she would graduate from Rice and continue her musical career that led her to Los Angeles. She works in a number of works as a film composer or as a “narrator”, as she describes her role.

“So we have to interpret the script, the scene and what the director’s intention is, the characters, the emotion and then transfer it to the music,” he explained. “Basically, you put yourself in the story and imagine how the character feels.”

Franco did just that for “Encanto”. It’s a film that celebrates Latin culture, but like everything else, COVID created great challenges during the making of the film. Instead of traveling to Colombia where the film takes place, Franco says she had to read a lot of books and research for inspiration to create the sights and sounds of the Latin American country. He says he even had a specific organ to fly to the United States called the marimba de chonta.

“Marimba is played all over the world and comes from Africa, but those in Guatemala and Mexico are very different from the Colombian marimba. Basically, I wanted that sound,” Franco explained. “There is a Colombian harp called arpa llanera and it is the music from the plain area that at one point was Colombia and Venezuela. It was a country, so called joropo music.”

Franco adds that in addition to her work in the film, it was music in her ears to see so many people around the world see themselves in the characters on the big screen. Franco herself has found common ground with the Maribel character.

RELATED: The reaction of the 2-year-old when he “sees himself” in the character of “Encanto” sends a strong message

“She’s a bit silly and spasmodic in a way, and I was the band’s nerd,” he said. “She does not give up. She is very persistent and this is something that is important in life. In whatever field you are in, you have to learn how to fail and get up again and then get up and try again.”

That’s the secret to her success, she says, as a groundbreaking filmmaker who spent the golden night.

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