“Imagine this little girl in the back seat of a while Ford Focus,” Ariana DeBose said, holding her golden Oscar. “Look into her eyes. You see an openly-queer woman of color, an Afro-Latina, who found her strength in life through art. That’s what I believe we are here to celebrate.”
Applause echoed throughout the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles as DeBose continued.
“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 space for us.”
Ariana DeBose made history in this speech. She is the first Afro-Latina and first openly-queer woman to win an Oscar for best supporting actress.
The actor took home the first award of the night’s live broadcast for her role as Anita in ‘West Side Story’. Anita, who is based on a supporting character in Romeo and Juliet, is a Puerto Rican who moves to New York and finds work as a seamstress.
Ariana DeBose says she’d tell her younger self “your dreams are not too big”
Ariana DeBose got her start as a contestant on ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ in 2009. She then found success on Broadway as a member of the ensemble cast in plays like, ‘Bring it On’, ‘Motown’ and ‘Hamilton’.
She received her first Tony award nomination in 2018 for her role as Disco Donna in ‘Summer: The Donna Summer Story’.
In addition to taking home the Oscar on Sunday, DeBose has received a host of other awards for playing Anita. In the last few months, she’s also won a BAFTA, SAG Award, Critics Choice Award, Golden Globe and more.
While walking down the red carpet before entering the theater, a reporter stopped DeBose to ask her a question.
The Variety reporter asked her what she’d say to her younger self.
“I’d tell her she’s not crazy,” Ariana DeBose said, “and her dreams are not too big.”
“In fact, she could dream even bigger.”