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Ariana DeBose offered reassurance to those who have “questioned[their] identity” as she picked up the Best Supporting Actress at the Academy Awards on Sunday (27.03.22).
The 31-year-old star beat off competition from Jessie Buckley (‘The Lost Daughter’), Dame Judi Dench (‘Belfast’), Kirsten Dunst (‘The Power of the Dog’) and Aunjanue Ellis (‘King Richard’) to score a win following her first ever nomination for ‘West Side Story’ and gave a heartfelt, emotional speech as she accepted the honour at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.
She excitedly said: “Yes, OK. Oh my word, what is this? Now you see why Anita says I want to be in America because even in this weird world we live in, dreams do come true and that’s really a heartening thing right now.
“If I took the time to say thank you to every single beautiful person who has lifted me up on this stage, you’d find people would be sitting here until next Oscars so I’m not going to do that.
“Just allow me to say it was a summer of a lifetime and I am the most privileged and grateful to have spent it with all of you.
“My god, thank you Steven Spielberg, you’re stuck with me now… The divine inspiration that is Rita Moreno who is staring at me now. I’m so grateful, your Anita paved the way for tonnes of Anita’s like me and I love you so much.”
Ariana then grew emotional as she spoke about her family.
She said: “I’m going to wrap this up and talk about my family. My mother, who is here tonight. I love you with my whole heart. This is as much yours as it is mine.
“Some of my tribesmen, my family my love Sue, Jonathan, Diana, Anthony, I couldn’t do what I do without each and every one of you.”
The actress then reflected on her own journey to landing her first Oscar.
She concluded: “Imagine this little girl in the back seat of a white Ford Focus, look into her eyes, you see a, openly queer woman on colour, an Afro Latina who found her strength through art and that’s what I believe we’re here to celebrate. To anybody who has questioned your identity or find yourself in grave spaces, I promise you this, there is indeed a place for us.
“Thank you to the Academy and thank you all.”