Actress Ariana DeBose made history yesterday (Feb. 8) when she became the first out queer Afro-Latina to be nominated for an acting Oscar for her role as Anita in Steven Spielberg’s remake of "West Side Story". The film received seven Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, and of course - Best Supporting Actress for Ariana DeBose.
The news comes alongside actress Kristen Stewart who also made history yesterday being openly queer and receiving an Oscar nomination for her role as Princess Diana in Pablo Larrain’s “Spencer”.
DeBose took to Instagram to express her excitement for her history-making nomination.
"My morning walk along the river was extra special today. I am absolutely overjoyed by this morning’s news. To be recognized alongside such incredible women for their inspiring performances is surreal enough, but to share this celebration with Steven, Kristie, and the entire team that made our beautiful movie is a dream come true. I’m so thankful to the Academy for this acknowledgement and am beyond grateful to Steven, Kristie, Kevin and everyone at Amblin and Disney. What a moment."
DeBose and Rita Moreno, who won the Oscar for playing the same role in the 1961 version of "West Side Story" are now among he rare pairs of actors to be nominated for playing the same character, according to the LA Times. They have a chance to become only the third pair to both win.
“That’s a really, really exclusive club,” she said. “I’m honored ... I think it [proves] multiple interpretations, all of them are valid. Variety is good! I think we should normalize that. Exciting!”
In an interview with The Times, she said that during the audition process, she told a room with large names such as Spielberg and screenwriter Tony Kushner in it, “‘I’m Afro-Latina, and that would inform everything about this character, by virtue of how she would walk through her community. If you’re not interested in exploring that, you shouldn’t hire me.’ And Tony was like, ‘OK, let’s go.’”
The winners will be announced at the 94th Oscars, which will take place on Sunday, March 27 live from the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, airing on ABC. West Side Story will be available on Disney Plus and HBO Max next month starting March 2, 2022. Most international audiences will be able to watch on March 2, however Taiwan will be available on March 9 and Japan on March 30.