Ariana DeBose has won the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for her role as Anita in West Side Story.
DeBose beat out fellow nominees Jessie Buckley (The Lost Daughter), Judi Dench (Belfast), Kirsten Dunst (The Power of the Dog) and Aunjanue Ellis (King Richard) to take home the statuette.
During her acceptance speech, DeBose thanked Rita Moreno, who originally played the role of Anita in the beloved musical film. The actress also noted the significance of an “openly Queer, woman of colour” being honoured at the awards ceremony — DeBose is the first such person to achieve the accolade.
“Imagine this little girl in the back seat of a white Ford Focus, look into her eyes,” she said. “You see an openly queer woman of colour, an Afro-Latina, who found her strength in life through art. And that is, I think, what we’re here to celebrate.
“To anyone who has ever questioned your identity or lived in the grey spaces, there is, indeed, a place for us”.
Over in the Best Supporting Actor category, Ciarán Hinds (Belfast), Troy Kotsur (CODA), Jesse Plemons (The Power of the Dog), J.K. Simmons (Being the Ricardos) and Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Power of the Dog) competed for the honour.
One surprising snub from the supporting actress category was West Side Story performer Moreno. Many hoped the iconic Latina actress would score her second nomination in the group, after winning the award in 1962 for her role as Anita in the original West Side Story film. She was the first, and to date, is the only Latina actress to ever win an acting Oscar.
If Moreno had been nominated and won, she would have broken several records, including for the oldest Oscar winner across every category. Currently holding that title is screenwriter James Ivory, who won Best Adapted Screenplay in 2018 for Call Me By Your Name.
Moreno would also have been the first Latina actress to be nominated twice and would have broken the record for the longest time span between her first and last Oscar nominations — a title currently held by Katharine Hepburn.
In 2021 the category was won by Youn Yuh-jung, who became the first-ever South Korean thespian to be nominated for Best Supporting Actress, for her role as Soon-ja in Minari.
Taking to the stage to collect her trophy from none other than Brad Pitt, Youn decided to share a moment with the actor, joking, “Mr Pitt, finally, nice to meet you. Where were you while we were filming in Tulsa?”
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