Ariana DeBose Becomes First Afro-Latina to Win an Acting Oscar
Ariana DeBose won the Oscar for best actress in a supporting role on March 27, and when she accepted her statue, she made some major history. The 31-year-old actor, who was awarded for her role as Anita in "West Side Story," is the first Afro-Latinx person to win an acting award. DeBose is also the first openly queer woman of color to win an acting Oscar.
In her speech, DeBose said, "Now you see why Anita says, 'I want to be in America,' because even in this weary world that we live in, dreams come true." She also described the filming of the movie "the summer of a lifetime."
"Imagine this little girl sitting in the backseat of a white Ford Focus. Look into her eyes. You see an openly queer woman of color and Afro-Latino who found her strength in life through art, and that's what I believe we're here to celebrate," DeBose added. "So to anybody who has ever questioned your identity or you find yourself living in the gray spaces, I promise this: there is indeed a place for us."
The role of Anita also joins an exclusive club of characters that two people have won Oscars for portraying. Rita Moreno won an Oscar in 1962 for her role in the original "West Side Story" film, and she was the first Latina to win an Oscar. DeBose and Moreno are the only pair of women to share this achievement. The other two are Marlon Brando and Robert DeNiro, who both played "The Godfather"'s Vito Corleone, and Heath Ledger and Joaquin Phoenix, who both played the Joker.
Watch DeBose's emotional speech.