Ariana DeBose becomes first Afro-Latina and openly queer actor to win an Oscar
28 March 2022, 06:38
"If anyone has ever questioned your identity, I promise you this – there is indeed a place for us”
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Ariana DeBose has officially made history as the first Afro-Latina and openly queer actor to win an Oscar.
On Sunday night (Mar 27), Ariana took home the award for Best Supporting Actress in Steven Spielberg's 2021 adaptation of West Side Story at the 94th Academy Awards. Other nominees in the category include: Jessie Buckley for The Lost Daughter, Judi Dench for Belfast, Kirsten Dunst for The Power of the Dog and Aunjanue Ellis for King Richard.
The talented actress and singer has cleaned up this award's season, earning Best Supporting Actress awards at the 2022 BAFTA, Golden Globe and SAG Awards for her performance as Anita.
As she collected her award, Ariana – who is Puerto Rican – gave a heartfelt speech about her historic win:
“You see an openly queer woman of colour, an Afro-Latina, who found her strength and life through art. And that is, I think, what we’re here to celebrate. So if anyone has ever questioned your identity, I promise you this – there is indeed a place for us.”
“Now you see why Anita says, ‘I want to be in America’, because even in this weary world that we live in, dreams do come true. And that’s really a heartening thing right now.”
Ariana winning Best Supporting Actress wasn't the only historic moment of the night, though. Ariana and actress Rita Moreno became the first actresses to win an Oscar for the same role in different movies.
In case you didn't know, Rita actually won Best Supporting Actress for her performance as Anita in 1962. Robert Wise's version of West Side Story was released 60 years earlier than Spielberg's in 1961.
Rita also starred in the 2021 version of West Side Story but this time she played Valentina. Valentina is the Puerto Rican widow of drug store owner Doc and she's also Tony's (played by Ansel Elgort) boss. Despite the racial tensions in San Juan Hill, Valentina teaches Tony Spanish and supports his romance with Maria (played by Rachel Zegler).