Ariana DeBose Makes LGBTQ+ And Oscar History With West Side Story Win

Ariana DeBose wins Best Supporting Actress for West Side Story 2022 Oscars
(Image credit: ABC )

As Ariana DeBose took the stage to accept her Oscar for Best Supporting Actress early in the 2022 Oscars, she made history for inclusive recognition from the Academy. First and foremost, the 31-year-old is the first openly gay woman to win an acting Oscar. As she shared in her speech, her win is a symbol that "there is a place" for the LGBTQ+ community in Hollywood.

She is also one of the few actors to be the second to win Academy Award for playing the same character. Her West Side Story co-star Rita Moreno became the first Latina actor to be recognized by the Academy when she won the award for the 1961 version of the Stephen Sondheim musical. 

Ariana DeBose had some stiff competition, going up against Jesse Buckley for The Lost Daughter, Judi Dench for Belfast, Kirsten Dunst for The Power of the Dog and Aunjanue Ellis for King Richard. Here was her reaction to the big win during the telecast: 

Ariana DeBose winning Oscars 2022 for West Side Story

(Image credit: ABC)

Upon accepting the award from H.E.R. and Daniel Kaluuya, who memorably won Best Supporting Actor last year, DeBose said "Yikes!" "Oh my word" and "What is this?" in disbelief. Then she said these words: 

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.

This is the first Oscar experience for DeBose, who got her start as a dancer and notably as "The Bullet" in the original Hamilton Broadway cast before recently starring in Netflix musical, The Prom, AppleTV+ series (also a musical) Schmigadoon! and soon as a character in Spider-Verse spinoff Kraven the Hunter

The actress went on to call her experience filming West Side Story "the summer of a lifetime" and thanked Steven Spielberg, who she said he is "stuck with her now." DeBose took a moment to highlight the Anita before her, Rita Moreno, who was in attendance at the Oscars as well. She said this about the legendary actress, who returned for 2021's West Side Story: 

Rita Moreno, you are staring at me right now and I'm so grateful your Anita paved the way for tons of Anitas like me and I love you so much.

Ariana DeBose also touched on her history-making win for the LGBTQ+ community by reminding viewers on national TV she is "openly queer" along with speaking to them through the screen. In her words: 

Imagine this little girl in the backseat of a white Ford Focus, look into her eyes and see an openly queer woman, an Afro-Latina who found her strength in life through art and that's what I believe we are here to celebrate. To anybody who has ever questioned their identity or find yourself living in the gray spaces, I promise you this: there is indeed a place for us.

Congratulations to Ariana DeBose for her much deserved recognition at the Oscars. You can check out the actress’ performance in West Side Story with a Disney+ subscription. You can keep updated on the 2022 Oscar winners right here on CinemaBlend. 

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

YA genre tribute. Horror May Queen. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.