Ariana DeBose makes history (twice!) with her Oscars win for 'West Side Story'

That Ariana DeBose Oscars win for 'West Side Story' is a huge victory for both the queer and Afro-Latina communities

Ariana DeBose Oscars, Ariana DeBose attends the 94th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood and Highland on March 27, 2022 in Hollywood, California
(Image credit: Emma McIntyre/Getty)

That historic Ariana DeBose Oscars speech was as powerful as her extraordinary supporting performance in West Side Story.

DeBose took the stage at the 94th Academy Awards on Sunday, March 27, to receive her Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Anita in the musical remake, one of the Oscar Best Picture nominees of the year, which also stars Rachel Zegler and Rita Moreno. 

Movingly, DeBose's win comes sixty years since her West Side Story co-star Moreno won in the same category for the same role. It makes for only the third time that multiple actors have won Oscars for the same role, after Joaquin Phoenix and Heath Ledger as the Joker, and Marlon Brando and Robert DeNiro as Vito Corleone in The Godfather series.

See more

But that wasn't the only bit of history gloriously wrapped up in DeBose's victory. The 31-year-old singing, dancing, acting triple-threat also became the first Afro-Latina and the first openly queer woman of color to win an Academy Award for acting.

"Even in this weary world that we live in, dreams do come true!" DeBose proclaimed when she took the stage.

Honoring both her director ("Steven Spielberg, you're stuck with me now!") and "the divine inspiration that is Rita Moreno" ("Your Anita paved the way for tons of Anitas like me"), DeBose ended her acceptance speech, saying: "You see an openly queer woman of color, an Afro-Latina, who found her strength and life through art. And that is, I think, what we’re here to celebrate. So if anyone has ever questioned your identity or you find yourself living in the gray spaces, I promise you this—there is indeed a place for us."

Indeed there is, Ariana!

Also featured in her category were Jessie Buckley (The Lost Daughter), Judi Dench (Belfast), Kirsten Dunst (The Power of the Dog) and Aunjanue Ellis (King Richard). DeBose also won a Screen Actors Guild Award and a BAFTA for her West Side Story performance.

Christina Izzo is the Deputy Editor of My Imperfect Life. 


More generally, she is a writer-editor covering food and drink, travel, lifestyle and culture in New York City. She was previously the Features Editor at Rachael Ray In Season and Reveal, as well as the Food & Drink Editor and chief restaurant critic at Time Out New York


When she’s not doing all that, she can probably be found eating cheese somewhere.