Ariana DeBose makes Oscars history as first queer woman of colour to win: ‘There is a place for us’

Ariana DeBose has made history by becoming the first openly queer woman of colour to win an Oscar for her towering performance in West Side Story.

DeBose beat out stiff competition from Jessie Buckley, Aunjanue Ellis, Kirsten Dunst and Judi Dench to take home the prize. Her win comes 60 years after Rita Moreno won in the same category for her portrayal of Anita in the original film adaptation of West Side Story in 1962.

“What is this?” an emotional Ariana DeBose said on stage at the Dolby Theatre. “You know what, 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 a really heartening thing right now.”

The actor went on to describe the period in which she filmed West Side Story as “the summer of a lifetime”. She also paid tribute to director Steven Spielberg, joking: “You’re stuck with me now.”

In a particularly poignant moment, DeBose paid tribute to Moreno, who was sitting in the audience at the ceremony.

“You are staring at me right now, and I’m so grateful your Anita paved the way for tons of Anitas like me, and I love you so much.”

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