Celebrity

Ariana DeBose ‘reached out’ to Disney CEO over ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law: ‘We’re gonna do the work’

Nola Ojomu March 30, 2022
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Ariana DeBose holding her Oscar for her performance in "West Side Story".

Ariana DeBose holding her Oscar (Getty/David Livingston)

West Side Story star Ariana DeBose has revealed she reached out to Disney CEO Bob Chapek over the studio’s response to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law.

DeBose, who became the first openly queer woman of colour to win an acting Oscar on Sunday night (27 March), was one of many that took issue with Disney’s original stance regarding the legislation.

DeBose’s West Side Story was distributed by 20th Century Films, a division of Disney.

The Walt Disney Company has been criticised for initially refusing to speak against the bill, which was signed into law this week, and for cutting cheques to Republicans who backed it.

CEO Bob Chapek has since backtracked and paused all political donations in Florida, while the company is now “committed” to striking down the reviled legislation.

Bob Chapek speaks on stage in a suit
Disney CEO Bob Chapek. (Jeff Gritchen/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images)

Speaking to Variety on Sunday, DeBose explained she’s had discussions with Disney’s CEO as she stated: “Bob and I, we’re gonna do the work. I have [spoken to Chapek]. I’m a very hands-on type of person.

“And when I see something, I say something. And while I may not always put it on the internet, I do that. I reached out. And I will continue to reach out and Bob knows that.”

“We’re here. We’re queer. And we’ve been here,” she added.

The controversial House Bill 1557, also known as the Parental Rights in Education bill, prohibits school staff or third parties from discussing LGBT+ topics with students in kindergarten and third grade classrooms with only “age-appropriate” instruction permitted for older children.

Ariana DeBose accepts the award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her performance in "West Side Story".
Ariana DeBose accepts the award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her performance in “West Side Story”. (ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty)

Ariana DeBose won Best Actress in a Supporting Role at the Oscars for her performance in West Side Story.

During her acceptance speech, she spoke out in support of queer creators.

“Imagine this little girl in the back seat of a white Ford Focus, look into her eyes, you see an openly queer woman of colour, an Afro-Latina, who found her strength in life through art, and that’s what I believe we’re here to celebrate,” she said.

“So to anybody who’s ever questioned your identity, ever, ever, ever, or you find yourself living in the grey spaces, I promise you this, there is indeed a place for us.”

More: ariana debose, Disney, don't say gay bill

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