Culture

Ariana DeBose Is the First Queer Woman of Color To Win an Oscar

The actor makes history and shares a word to queer youth.

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Ariana DeBose Is the First Queer Woman of Color To Win an Oscar

The actor makes history and shares a word to queer youth.

Ariana DeBose, the actor behind the role of Anita in Steven Spielberg‘s 2021 version of West Side Story, has won an Oscar for the role. The win makes her the first queer woman of color to win an Academy Award.

DeBose, who formerly starred in another cultural favorite, Hamilton, won the Best Supporting Actress Award — the same award Rita Moreno won for her role as Anita in the 1961 version of the film.

The accomplishment is outstanding, not only for the obvious reason of winning an Oscar, but because DeBose has been inspired by Moreno’s role in West Side Story since she was a little girl.

DeBose told Good Morning America last year: “I was sitting in my grandmother‘s living room … I think I was 7 or 8, watching the woman in the purple dress [Moreno] dance, and I was like, ‘I want to do that’ … it was very visceral for me.”

Last night at the Oscars, DeBose’s dream came true. During her acceptance speech she spoke about her gratitude to Moreno, who watched with tears in her eyes: “… The divine inspiration that is Rita Moreno … I’m so grateful – your Anita paved the way for tons of Anitas like me, and I love you.”

DeBose closed her acceptance speech with a word of encouragement to queer youth, inspired by the same hopes and dreams she once had:

“As an openly queer Latina woman of color who found her strength in life through art… to anybody who has ever questioned your identity ever … or you find yourself living in gray spaces, I promise you this — there is indeed a place for us.”

Watch the inspirational acceptance speech below:

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