Ariana DeBose took home the SAG Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture for her turn in Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story on Sunday night—an accolade that is helping to break the glass ceiling for queer Afro Latinas in Hollywood. She is the first openly queer woman of color to win an individual film Screen Actors Guild Award.
“I think it’s just indicative that the doors are opening,” DeBose said in the SAG Awards press room while talking with the media. “It’s an honor to be seen, it’s an honor to be an Afro-Latina—an openly queer woman of color, a dancer, a singer, and an actor. It’s indicative to me that I will not be the last, and that’s the important part. Whatever firsts are attached to my name, they are immensely special to me, but I’m focused on the fact that if I’m the first of anything that means I won’t be the last.”
DeBose, who is the latest Latina to portray Anita in West Side Story, also honored her predecessors, Rita Moreno and Chita Rivera for paving the way.
“The legacy of Anita means a great deal to me, for many different reasons,” she shared. “I’m a Broadway girl at heart. We speak so frequently about Rita Moreno, as we should, she’s legendary. But the OG Anita on stage is Chita Rivera, and I have looked up to Chita for such a long time. She [paved the] way for me on the stage for me to be able to do what I do in that facet of the industry. So, to be able to be a part of the legacy of Anita that includes both Chita and Rita—and now Ariana— it’s really special to me. And we’re all very different types of Latinas, that’s beautiful and important too. There’s no one way to be Latina or Hispanic. There are many beautiful ways. I think each one of us is a testament to that.”
Up next for DeBose is the Oscar race, where she is in the run for Best Supporting Actress for West Side Story, becoming the first openly queer woman of color to be nominated for an acting Oscar.
Watch DeBose’s speech above and her backstage comments below.
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