Ariana DeBose Just Became the First Queer Woman of Color to Win an Oscar
As a longtime Academy Award-watcher, former high school theater nerd, and Hamilton super fan, I was rooting for Ariana DeBose — who played The Bullet in the original cast of Lin-Manuel Miranda's groundbreaking rap musical — to win the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her performance as Anita in West Side Story, the award Rita Moreno (the original Anita) took home 60 years ago.
But all selfish, fan-girl reasons aside, Ariana's win carries so much weight and makes a necessary and long-overdue step forward for the film industry. Believe or not, the actress, singer, and dancer just became the first queer woman of color to win an Oscar, and is the only to be nominated, according to NPR.
"Ariana DeBose is an immensely talented actress and a tremendous advocate for LGBTQ people and people of color," GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement. "She not only made history tonight as the first queer woman of color to win an Oscar, but she sent a beautiful and timely message to LGBTQ young people. I hope LGBTQ youth around the world saw her win, heard her speak and recognize that they too should dream big."
As unimaginable as it is that this is the first time that has happened, it's not the only history the actress is making tonight. She becomes the second Latin American woman to win the award, second to her predecessor Moreno. Plus, the two stars become the first pair of women to win the award for the same role. And on top of it all, DeBose is only the second person born in the 1990s to win, after Jennifer Lawrence.
Rita Moreno, who also appeared in the Steven Spielberg adaptation, joined her co-star and torchbearer on the red carpet. The 90-year-young legend wore a stunning, structural off-one-shoulder black gown with matching shoes adorned with a silver buckle and a feathered hat.
"Imagine this little girl in the backseat of a white Ford focus, look into her eyes and you see an openly queer woman of color, an Afro-Latina who found her strength in life through art," DeBose said in her speech with tears in her eyes. "Even in this weary world that we live in, dreams do come true. To anybody who has ever questioned your identity ... I promise you this, there is indeed a place for us."