Ariana DeBose is an American actress, dancer, and singer who has made a name for herself in the world of Broadway, television, and film. She has received critical acclaim for her performances and has been recognized with various awards, including an Academy Award, a British Academy Film Award, a Golden Globe Award, and a nomination for a Tony Award.
Earlier this year, she also made waves with her BAFTA performance…but there’s so still much more to love and admire about Ariana and her career.
Let’s take a closer look at DeBose’s life, career, and some fun facts about her.
Ariana DeBose at a glance
Let’s get a few basic stats out of the way first. Ariana DeBose was born on January 25, 1991, in Wilmington, North Carolina, to a Puerto Rican father and a white mother. Her mother is an eighth-grade teacher, and her parents divorced when she was young. She has African American and partial Italian ancestry.
- Birthday: January 25, 1991
- Height: 5’7″ (1.70 m)
- Nationality: American
- Current City: New York City
Ariana got an early start in performing arts
At the early age of three, Ariana took up tap, jazz, and ballet dance classes, primarily growing up learning dance at CC & Co. Dance Complex. In high school, she dedicated her extracurricular time to musical theater.
Ariana took all of those skills to her television debut in 2009 when she showed off her fancy footwork on So You Think You Can Dance and managed to get into the Top 20.
From there, she entered professional theater mode, appearing in productions of Hairspray, Bring It On, Company, Motown: The Musical, Pippin, Hamilton, and Les Misérables between 2011 – 2015 alone.
Her breakout performance was Disco Donna in Summer: The Donna Summer Musical
Ariana killed it during this sensational performance. Her effortless grace and unparalleled poise earned her a nomination for a Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical. To top it off, she took home an ornate Chita Rivera Award for Outstanding Female Dancer In A Broadway Show
From there, Ariana took over our screens
On the film front, Ariana had a string of recent appearances including The Prom (2020) on Netflix, Schmigadoon! (2021) on Apple TV+, and most notably her role as Anita in Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story (2021).
She’s also appeared on Saturday Night Live as herself, hosted the 75th Tony Awards, played the recurring role of Maya in Westworld, and voices the character Lulu in the “A Big Splash!” episode of Bubble Guppies.
Ariana is the first openly queer woman of color to win an Oscar
Ariana identifies as queer and first came out to her family in 2015. Her intersectional Afro-Latina, queer identity has landed her many firsts for her community. Ariana was the first queer woman of color to win an Academy Award (for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Anita in Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story). She was also the first queer woman of color to win a Screen Actors Guild Award (in the Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture category for the same role in West Side Story).
Her role in West Side Story also landed her a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture, and a BAFTA for Best Film Actress in a Supporting Role.
Ariana uses her platform to advocate for the whole LGBTQ+ community
Following their roles in Netfilx’s The Prom, Ariana and Jo Ellen Pellman, a fellow actress and queer icon, took it upon themselves to co-found the Unruly Hearts Initiative. To date, they’ve raised a whopping $140,000 in support of partner organizations, Covenant House, The Trevor Project, and the Point Foundation.
Ariana has a few other projects already in the works
In the year ahead, Ariana is set to play Calypso in Marvel’s Kraven the Hunter, the voice of Princess Asha in Wish, and Kira Foster in a sci-fi thriller called I.S.S.—all of which are either in production or post-production.
Beyoncé is already a queen and now she’s adding mayor to her résumé.
She’s also currently filming roles in a mystery-comedy called Poolman, as well as a supernatural horror film called House of Spoils.
Ariana DeBose is a true trailblazer in the entertainment industry. Her incredible talent and dedication to her craft have earned her numerous accolades and critical acclaim, and she has become a symbol of hope and inspiration for young people everywhere who are looking for role models who represent their diversity and their struggles.
As a queer woman of color, Ariana’s success in West Side Story is a powerful statement about the importance of representation and inclusion in the entertainment industry. Her win at the Academy Awards is a historic moment that will be remembered for years to come, and it has opened doors for other young people who want to pursue careers in the arts.
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