Ariana DeBose: 5 Things to Know About the West Side Story Star

From So You Think You Can Dance to Hamilton to the Oscars? Ariana DeBose is on quite the journey

Ariana DeBose

Ariana DeBose has been gracing Hollywood with her presence for over a decade now, and she’s finally getting the recognition she deserves. After knocking audiences’ socks off with her dynamic, heartbreaking performance as Anita in Steven Spielberg’s highly-acclaimed West Side Story, DeBose has won a number of accolades, including a British Academy Film Award, a Critics’ Choice Movie Award, a Golden Globe Award, and a Screen Actors Guild Award.

Now, she’s now a front-runner for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. So if you want to learn more about this sensational up-and-coming star, (you should), read on.

01. Ariana DeBose Got Her Start On So You Think You Can Dance

Anyone who has seen West Side Story knows that Ariana DeBose is a magnificent dancer. What they might not know is that she burst onto the scene with an appearance on the popular dance competition show So You Think You Can Dance — when she was just eighteen years old. DeBose appeared on Season 6 in 2005 and made it to the top 20 before being eliminated. The competition paved the way for a fruitful career on Broadway, where she made her debut in the musical Bring it On in 2011.

02. She Was Also a Core Original Cast Member in Hamilton

Ever heard of Hamilton, by any chance? Well Ariana DeBose is one of the people who made the iconic show happen. She was one of the members of the original ensemble cast, and was with the show since it was an Off-Broadway Production. In the show, DeBose played the Bullet – a representation of death. She ended up leaving in July of 2016, around the same time as Lin-Manuel Miranda, Leslie Odom, Jr., and Phillipa Soo.

03. She Is the First Openly Queer Woman of Color to Receive an Oscar Nom for Acting

In addition to her performance in West Side Story being historically sublime, Ariana DeBose is making history in another way: she’s the first openly queer woman of color to receive an Academy Award nomination in the acting category. DeBose has Puerto Rican, African-American, and Italian ancestry. She has also been outspoken about her sexuality, claiming that she wants to use her platform to decrease the stigma surrounding discussing it.

04. She Originally Said “No” to her Role in West Side Story

Can you imagine Spielberg’s West Side Story without Ariana DeBose? Well, believe it or not, it almost happened. According to casting director Cindy Tolan, DeBose just didn’t see herself in the role. Tolan, who knew of DeBose from her long Broadway stint, approached the actress with persistence. “I asked her to come in and she said no,” said Tolan. “She refused four times and I had to talk her into coming in.” Of course, when DeBose finally did come in, everything finally fell into place.

05. Rumor Has It She’s Joining the MCU

According to Deadline, DeBose is keeping the ball rolling on her Hollywood career. She is allegedly going to be appearing in Kraven the Hunter, a film about a Marvel supervillain starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson in the titular role. DeBose would play Calypso, who in the comics was a voodoo priestess who uses her dark magic to toy with Kraven.

Other projects DeBose has in the pipeline are Argylle, a film about a spy, and I.S.S., which follows a group of secret astronauts trying to prevent a war. Meanwhile, you can see DeBose’s award-winning performance in West Side Story on HBO Max and Disney+ now.


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