Steven Spielberg Rita Moreno Steven Spielberg Rita Moreno

Ariana DeBose makes history as first openly queer actor of colour to win an Academy Award

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Ariana DeBose has made history as the first openly queer woman of colour to win an Academy Award for acting. On 27 March, the 31-year old took home the Best Supporting Actress Award for her portrayal of Anita in Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story.

Upon receiving her award, the Hamilton star took to the stage and gave a heartwarming and inspiring speech. “Now you see why Anita says ‘I want to be in America’ because even in this weary world that we live in, dreams do come true, and that’s really a heartening thing right now,” she said in between tears.

She then thanked the “divine inspiration” Rita Moreno, who originally portrayed Anita in the 1962 film. “I’m so grateful your Anita paved the way for tons of Anitas like me, and I love you so much,” she exclaimed.

In 1962, Moreno made history as the first Latina woman to take home an Academy Award. Towards the end of her speech, DeBose offered inspiring words for the LGBTQ+ community worldwide. “Lastly, imagine this little girl in the backseat of a white Ford Focus, look into her eyes and you see an openly queer woman of colour, and Afro-Latina who found her strength in life through art,” she said. “So to anybody who has ever questioned your identity ever or you find yourself living in gray spaces, I promise you this: There is indeed a place for us.” The monumental achievement also marked the first time an Afro-Latina actress has won the coveted acting accolade.

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