Ariana DeBose continued her stage-to-screen success streak at the 2022 Academy Awards with a history-making win.
DeBose won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance as Anita in Steven Spielberg’s remake of “West Side Story.” She is the first queer woman of color and Afro-Latina to receive the award.
The actor became visibly emotional as she acknowledged the historic significance of her win in her acceptance speech.
“Imagine this little girl in the back seat of any white Ford Focus,” she said. “Look into her eyes. You see an openly queer woman and Afro-Latina who found her strength in life through art. And that’s what I believe we’re here to celebrate.”
Alluding to the song “Somewhere” from “West Side Story,” she added, “So to anybody who’s ever questioned your identity ever, ever, ever, or you find yourself living in gray spaces, I promise you this: There is, indeed, a place for us.”
Interestingly, actor Rita Moreno also won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in 1962 for playing Anita in the original “West Side Story,” which starred Richard Beymer and Natalie Wood. Moreno is the only cast member from the original film to appear in Spielberg’s remake in a newly written role.
DeBose, a North Carolina native who appeared in “Hamilton” and “Summer: The Donna Summer Musical” on Broadway prior to making the transition to film, previously described her Oscar nomination as “a monumental moment.”
“It’s exciting,” she told Variety last month. “But I feel every ounce of hard work and determination that I’ve had to employ throughout this journey. Every rejection — or, as I like to say, redirection. Every choice I’ve made. Every risk I’ve taken.”