Penelope Cruz won the best supporting actress Academy Award on Sunday for her fiery, funny role in "Vicky Cristina Barcelona, saying it was a sign of changing times in American film for foreign actors.

"You have to keep climbing mountains," Cruz said minutes after accepting her award for her portrayal of a woman in a three-way relationship with her ex-husband and an American woman.

"Could you work in America if you have an accent? Yes, you can, and that has been changing in the last 10 or 15 years," said Cruz, 34. "If movies represent life, if movies represent what happens in the streets, then we are all in this together."

The win made Cruz the first Spanish woman to win an acting Oscar, one year after her compatriot and "Vicky" co-star Javier Bardem won best supporting actor for "No Country for Old Men." It came one day after Cruz won the same prize at the Spirit Awards.

Cruz was nominated for a best actress Oscar in 2006 for "Volver."

Cruz delivered part of her acceptance speech in Spanish, saying the win was for actors from her home country and others in Spain.

"I grew up in a place called Alcobendas, where this was not a very realistic dream," Cruz said. "I always felt that this ceremony was a moment of unity for the world."

Cruz praised director Woody Allen for helping her deal with insecurity on the set and thanked him writing good roles for women.

Also nominated in the category were Amy Adams and Viola Davis for "Doubt," Taraji P. Henson for "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" and Marisa Tomei for "The Wrestler."

The award was presented jointly by five actresses who previously won the award, Tilda Swinton, Whoopi Goldberg, Goldie Hawn, Angelica Huston and Eva Marie Saint. Each actress made remarks about each of the five nominees before Swinton announced Cruz as the winner.

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