Culture

Ariana DeBose makes SAG Awards history and there’s not a dry eye in the house

Patrick Kelleher February 28, 2022
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Ariana DeBose accepts Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role for West Side Story.

Ariana DeBose accepts Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role for West Side Story. (Rich Fury/Getty)

Ariana DeBose won a Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award for her role in West Side Story.

The actor and singer took home the award for Best Supporting Actress in a history-making moment, becoming the first out queer woman and first Afro-Latina to win an individual film award from SAG. The victory has cemented her position as the frontrunner in her Oscars category.

Ariana DeBose fought out stiff competition from Cate Blanchett, Kirsten Dunst, Ruth Negga and Caitriona Balfe to take home the award.

In a heartfelt speech, DeBose said it had taken “a long time” for her to feel comfortable describing herself as an actor. She also reflected on the challenges she faced bringing her version of her character Anita to life.

Ariana DeBose paid tribute to ‘amazing’ Lady Gaga in her speech

“It’s taken a long time for me to feel comfortable calling myself an actor. My roots come from the dance world and the Broadway stage, and the Anita that we see on the screen took every bit of me – she took 10 years to make.

“I’m extremely proud of her and of our film, and I really do believe that when you recognise one of us you recognise all of us in a way.”

DeBose went on to thank West Side Story director Steven Spielberg “for believing in the possibility of not only my talent but that of my colleagues”.

She also paid tribute to the entire cast and crew, describing the film as “a labour of love” and “a beautiful cinematic experience”.

Ariana DeBose closed out her speech by thanking the SAG Awards audience.

“And just thank all of you, all of you staring at me, so many of you – dear God. Hi Lady Gaga, you’re amazing,” DeBose said to laughter from those gathered.

“I’ve watched so many of you for a very long time, you have inspired me and you continue to do so and I am just thrilled to be among you, so thank you.”

Ahead of the awards, DeBose had an emotional moment on the red carpet when she was interviewed by Laverne Cox for E! News.

Cox showed DeBose a clip of her time on So You Think You Can Dance when she was just 18 years old.

“Could 18-year-old you have imagined that you’d be in this position right now?” Cox asked DeBose.

“Already, I’m crying,” DeBose said. “No, it’s amazing… this is what dreams are made of.”

Immediately after her win, trade magazine Variety declared that she had become the first Afro-Latina and the first queer woman of colour to win a SAG Award.

Shortly afterwards, the Los Angeles Times declared her the first openly queer woman to win a SAG Award.

Fans were quick to seize on DeBose’s love of Lady Gaga and use it as an excuse to beg Hollywood producers to put them in a film together.

In the press room after the awards, DeBose was asked about her love of Lady Gaga and why she decided to pay tribute to the star in her speech.

“I’m such a fan of her music and her artistry so that was my fangirl moment. And you know what, I’m not going to apologise for it. I stand by it,” DeBose laughed.

Other big winners on the night included Jessica Chastain and Will Smith, while the cast of CODA were recognised for their work on the film.

 

 

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