West Side Story‘s Ariana DeBose made history last night at the 2022 Screen Actors Guild Awards. By taking home the award for Best Supporting Actress, DeBose became the first Latina to win a film award and the first queer woman of color to be recognized by the guild for acting.
DeBose, who is most known for her work on Broadway and her roles in the Apple TV+ musical series Schmigadoon! and Netflix’s The Prom, starred as Anita in Steven Spielberg’s 2021 adaptation of West Side Story.
The actress and singer received critical acclaim for her performance as Anita, earning Best Supporting Actress nominations from the four major awards associations — while still up for the BAFTA and Academy Award, which take place in March, DeBose has now won the 2022 Golden Globe and SAG Awards for the role.
Sunday night’s victory marked DeBose’s first SAG nomination and win. Per Deadline, DeBose reflected on the gravity of her win while backstage in the SAG Awards press room.
“I think it’s just indicative that the doors are opening,” DeBose told the press. “It’s an honor to be seen, it’s an honor to be an Afro-Latina — an openly queer woman of color, a dancer, a singer, and an actor. It’s indicative to me that I will not be the last, and that’s the important part. Whatever firsts are attached to my name, they are immensely special to me, but I’m focused on the fact that if I’m the first of anything that means I won’t be the last.”
DeBose is breaking Hollywood barriers twice over as a proud Afro-Latina and an openly queer person. “We here! And we queer,” DeBose told Entertainment Tonight while on the SAG red carpet. According to the Los Angeles Times, earlier this month Debose and Lead Actress nominee Kristen Stewart became the first openly queer performers to be nominated for an Oscar since Ian McKellan in 2002. DeBose is also the first openly queer woman of color to ever be nominated for an acting Oscar.
DeBose has proudly spoken at length about her identity, particularly her Blackness — in her cover story for The Hollywood Reporter, she noted that she was at first unsure about taking on the role of Anita, who had been previously portrayed by non-Black Latina actresses.
“I was like, ‘I don’t know if there’s space for [my] interpretation,” DeBose told THR, “’Because I would have to play her as a Black woman.’ Because otherwise, I didn’t think there was anything to be added [to the role]. It had been done, and beautifully so.”
Backstage after her historic SAG win, DeBose shared that the legacy of the character of Anita is richer thanks to the range in diversity of the actresses who have portrayed her.
“To be able to be a part of the legacy of Anita that includes both Chita [Rivera] and Rita [Moreno] — and now Ariana — it’s really special to me,” DeBose said. “And we’re all very different types of Latinas, that’s beautiful and important too. There’s no one way to be Latina or Hispanic. There are many beautiful ways. I think each one of us is a testament to that.”