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

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) – Germaine Franco made history with her nomination for Best Original Score in the Disney film 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 alma mater.

Win or lose, Franco has already made Oscar history by becoming the first Latina and only the sixth woman in Oscar history to be nominated for Best Original Score. Her work on Disney’s Encanto earned her the nod.

Franco said, “Because I’m the first Latina, the first woman of color … to be nominated, I feel like we, you know, I’m proud to represent our Latinos and Latinas.”

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

“We are here and we have a vision, we have a voice and it’s very important to be part of the academy,” Franco said.

Franco grew up in El Paso before moving to Houston for school. Her time at Rice University helped her along this path as she immersed herself in music and practiced 12 hours a day to perfect her talent. There she also learned to play in an orchestra.

Franco said, “I arranged, orchestrated and started writing for my own group. While I was with Rice I played in so many orchestral ensembles and was in the Marching Owl Band.”
She tells us that she started making music at a very young age and loved to play the drums. Eventually, she would graduate from Rice and continue on the musical path that took her to Los Angeles. She works on a number of projects as a film composer, or “storyteller” as she describes her role.

“So we have to interpret the script, the scene and the director’s intent, the characters, the emotions, and then somehow translate that into music,” she explained. “Basically, it’s about putting yourself in the story and imagining what the character is feeling.”

Franco did just that for Encanto. It’s a film that celebrates Latin American culture, but like everything else, COVID created major challenges during filming. According to Franco, instead of traveling to Colombia, where the film is set, she had to read several books and look for inspiration to recreate the sights and sounds of the Latin American country. She says she even had a particular instrument flown into the United States called the marimba de chonta.

“Marimba is played all over the world and originated in 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 prairie that was once Colombia and Venezuela. They were one country so it’s called Joropo music.”

Franco adds that apart from working on the film, it was music to her ears to see so many people around the world see themselves in the characters on the big screen. Franco himself found common ground with the character Maribel.

RELATED: The 2-year-old’s reaction to seeing himself in the character ‘Encanto’ sends a powerful message

“She’s kind of goofy and nerdy, and I was the band nerd myself,” she said. “She doesn’t give up. She is very stubborn and that is something that is important in life. No matter what field you are in, you have to learn how to fail and get back up and then get back up and try again.”

That’s the secret of her success, she says, as a groundbreaking film composer who’s had quite a golden night.

Copyright © 2022 KTRK-TV. All rights reserved. Germaine Franco makes history as the first Latina in Oscar history to be nominated for Best Original Score

Dais Johnston

Dais Johnston is a USTimeToday U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Dais Johnston joined USTimeToday in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing

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