Ariana DeBose makes history with Oscars win

The "West Side Story" actress became the first openly queer woman of color to win an Academy Award

Congratulations are in order for Ariana DeBose. The triple threat actress took home Best Supporting Actress at this year’s Oscars, paving the way for Afro-Latina and LGBGQ+ representation in film.

As theGrio previously reported, DeBose’s turn as Anita in the 2021 reboot of West Side Story has been one of this year’s most acclaimed performances.

Through singing, dancing and acting up a storm, DeBose brought new life to the classic character of Anita. Her hard work was rewarded when she took home one of the most coveted awards in film at the 94th Annual Academy Awards, making history as the first openly LGBTQ+ woman of color to win the golden trophy.

94th Annual Academy Awards - Show
Ariana DeBose accepts the Actress in a Supporting Role award for ‘West Side Story’ onstage during the 94th Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on March 27, 2022 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)

In her powerful speech, DeBose paid tribute to her family, her collaborators and the various communities she considers herself apart of.

The 31-year-old actress thanked Rita Moreno—who originated the role of Anita and played a new role in the 2021 film—for paving the way for “tons of Anitas” like her. DeBose went on to say, “even in this weary world that we live in, dreams do come true, and that’s really a heartening thing right now.”

Later on, DeBose spoke directly to her identity and the importance of art, describing herself as an “openly queer woman of color, an Afro-Latina, who found her strength in life through art.” 

94th Annual Academy Awards - Arrivals
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 27: (L-R) Steven Spielberg, Rita Moreno, and Ariana DeBose attend the 94th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood and Highland on March 27, 2022 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images)

Then, referencing the emotional song “Somewhere” from the film, she finished her speech stating, “To anybody who has ever questioned your identity…I promise you this: there is indeed a place for us.”

As theGrio reported earlier this month, DeBose has been very open about her lifelong connection to West Side Story, calling this version, “a healing project.”

She told The Wrap, “When I was growing up, I was one of the only people who looked like me in my community. West Side Story gave me the opportunity to completely immerse myself in a way that I had not been afforded until then. So for me, West Side Story has been an incredibly healing project.” 

Watch the moment she found out she’d be taking home the award, below:

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