Ariana DeBose win "Best Supporting Actress" at 2022 Academy Awards. (Image: 20th Century Fox)

Ariana DeBose makes history at 94th annual Oscars

The 94th annual Academy Awards kicked off Sunday evening, where Ariana DeBose won the Oscar for “Best-Supporting Actress” for her role in “West Side Story.” The win effectively makes her the first Afro-Latina and openly LGBTQ+ actor to win in the category. 

DeBose won her award on Sunday night for her acting, singing, and dancing chops as Anita in her breakthrough role in Steven Spielberg’s reimagining of the beloved musical.

"You know, what, what is this," the 31-year-old actor and singer asked during her acceptance speech. "You know what, now I see why that Anita says, 'I want to be in America' because even in this weary world that we live in, dreams do come true. And that's really a heartening thing right now."

 

 

 

"And that's what I believe we're here to celebrate," concluded Ariana. "Yeah, so, to anybody who has ever questioned your identity ever, ever, ever, or you find yourself living in the gray spaces, I promise you this: There is indeed a place for us."

She also thanked Rita Moreno, who starred in both 1961 and 2021 film adaptations. Rita and Ariana are among special few few who have won Oscars for portraying the same role.

Moreno took home her own "Best Supporting Actress" Oscar in 1962 for West Side Story, becoming the first Latina to do so in the category.

DeBose’s win comes on the heels of a massive attack on the LGBTQ+ community, from Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill to statewide bans on transgender children in sports. 

However, DeBose’s message is echoed from the very start of the show. 

"We're going to have a great night tonight. And for you people in Florida, we're going to have a gay night," said host Wanda Sykes, who is a lesbian. Mocking Florida's bill co-hosts Amy Schumer and Regina Hall chanted "gay, gay, gay."

 

 

Another sought-after category saw out actress Kristen Stewart up an award. Earlier this year she was nominated for this year’s “Best Actress” for her role as Princess Diana in the biographical drama, Spencer. 

However, the win ultimately went to Jessica Chastain for her titular role in The Eyes of Tammy Faye. In her heartfelt acceptance speech, the actress spotlighted suicide prevention and the anti-LGBTQ+ legislation currently in discussion in the country. 

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