Ariana DeBose assured those who “have questioned[their] Identity” when she won Best Supporting Actress at the Academy Awards on Sunday (3/27/22).
The 31-year-old star faced off against competition from Jessie Buckley (“The Lost Daughter”), Dame Judi Dench (“Belfast”), Kirsten Dunst (“The Power of the Dog”) and Aunjanue Ellis (“King Richard”) through. to score a win following her first-ever nomination for West Side Story and delivered a heartfelt, emotional speech upon accepting the honor at Hollywood’s Dolby Theater.
She said excitedly, “Yes, OK. Oh my god 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 an encouraging thing, right now.
“If I took the time to say thank you to every single beautiful person who put me on this stage, you would find that people would be sitting here until the next Oscars, so I won’t do that.
“Just allow me to say that it has been the summer of my life and I have the greatest privilege and gratitude to have shared it with you all.
“My god thank you Steven Spielberg you’re stuck with me now… The divine inspiration that is Rita Moreno gazing at me now. I’m so thankful your Anita paved the way for tons of Anitas like me and I love you so much.”
Ariana then got 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 dear 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 her first Oscar.
She concluded: “Imagine this little girl in the back seat of a white Ford Focus, look her in the eyes, you see an openly queer woman of color, an Afro-Latina who has found her strength through art, and I think we’re here to celebrate. To anyone who has questioned your identity or is in burial grounds, I promise there is indeed a place for us.
“Thank you to the Academy and thank you to all of you.”