Ariana DeBose accepts the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role in "West Side Story" at the 94th Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S., March 27, 2022. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
March 28, 2022
By Ben Kellerman
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) -Ariana DeBose won her first Academy Award on Sunday for her supporting role as Anita in Steven Spielberg’s remake of classic musical “West Side Story.”
A relative newcomer to feature films, 31-year-old DeBose earned mainstream acclaim for her lively portrayal of Anita, an outspoken Puerto Rican woman who showcases her singing and dancing talents in the song “America.”
She also won a Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild award and British Academy Film Award for her performance.
“It was the summer of a lifetime and I am most privileged and grateful to spend it with all of you,” DeBose said in accepting her award.
DeBose, citing her membership in both the Afro-Latina and queer communities, said the award showed that “there is indeed a place for us,” a reference to a song in “West Side Story.”
North Carolina-born DeBose trained in dance and had roles in Broadway productions including “Hamilton” and “Summer: The Donna Summer Musical” before appearing in the Netflix television musical “The Prom” as a cheerleader struggling to come out of the closet.
“I am America,” she told OUT Magazine in November 2021. “I am damn near a member of just about every marginalized community.”
This is the second time the role of Anita has earned the best supporting actress award: Rita Moreno in 1962 became the first Latina actress to win an Oscar for her performance in the original “West Side Story.” Moreno, 90, joined Spielberg’s remake as drugstore owner Valentina, a new character written just for her.
DeBose’s fellow supporting actress nominees were Kirsten Dunst for “Power of the Dog,” Aunjanue Ellis for “King Richard,” Judi Dench for “Belfast” and Jessie Buckley for “The Lost Daughter.”
(Reporting by Ben Kellerman and Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Howard Goller)