Oscar Actors: DeBose, Ariana–Background, Career, Awards

Updated Feb 19, 2022
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Born January 25, 1991, Ariana DeBose is an American actress, singer, and dancer.

She is the recipient of multiple accolades, including a Golden Globe Award, and nominations for an Academy Award, a Tony Award, two BAFTA Awards, a Screen Actors Guild Award, and two Critics Choice Movie Awards.

DeBose made her television debut competing on So You Think You Can Dance. She then made her Broadway debut in the musical Bring It On: The Musical in 2011 and appeared in further Broadway roles in Motown: The Musical in 2013 and Pippin in 2014. She also appeared in the original cast of Hamilton from 2015 to 2016 and as Jane in A Bronx Tale from 2016 to 2017. In 2018, she was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for her role as Donna Summer in Summer: The Donna Summer Musical.

DeBose also appeared in the filmed stage recording of Hamilton, which was released in 2020 on Disney+. She played Alyssa Greene in Netflix’s The Prom (2020) and Emma in the Apple TV+ musical comedy series Schmigadoon! (2021). In 2021, her role as Anita in Steven Spielberg’s musical film West Side Story (2021), a reboot of the 1961 film of the same name and inspired by the 1957 play of the same name, earned her worldwide recognition and several accolades, including a Golden Globe Award, and nominations for two British Academy Film Awards, two Critics’ Choice Movie Awards, a Screen Actors Guild Award and an Academy Award.

DeBose was born on January 25, 1991, in Raleigh, North Carolina. Her mother, Gina DeBose, is an 8th grade teacher.[2] DeBose trained in dance at CC & Co. Dance Complex in Raleigh.[3] Debose has stated that her father is Puerto Rican and her mother is white, and that she also has African-American and Italian ancestry.

DeBose made her television debut in 2009, competing on the TV series So You Think You Can Dance, making it into the Top 20.[5] She later appeared on the soap opera One Life to Live and played Inez in the North Carolina Theatre’s production of Hairspray before appearing in the role of Nautica in the 2011 Alliance Theatre production of Bring It On. She also appeared in the ensemble of the New York Philharmonic production of Company, which was filmed for television.

At the end of 2011, Bring It On embarked on a national tour across the United States. DeBose continued her role into the 2012 Broadway production and understudied the character Danielle.

In 2013, DeBose played Mary Wilson in Motown on Broadway, understudying the role of Diana Ross. DeBose left the show to play Eponine in a regional production of Les Misérables,[6] before returning to Broadway as a noble and a player in the musical Pippin, understudying the role of the Leading Player, which she ended up taking over for a short period in 2014.[6] She can be heard playing director/choreographer Zoey Taylor in As the Curtain Rises, an original Broadway soap opera podcast from the Broadway Podcast Network.

In 2015, DeBose left Pippin to join the ensemble of the off-Broadway musical Hamilton. In her role, she originated “the bullet”, a “secret character” that foreshadows Alexander Hamilton and Philip Hamilton’s fates during the show. The show moved to Broadway later that year and became an overnight sensation. She left Hamilton in July 2016 and made a guest appearance on the TV series Blue Bloods as Sophia Ortiz. She also starred as Daphne in the thriller film Seaside.

From November 2016 to August 2017, DeBose portrayed Jane on Broadway in A Bronx Tale.

2017–present: Breakthrough and further recognition
In late 2017, DeBose received her breakthrough role, playing Disco Donna in Summer: The Donna Summer Musical at San Diego’s La Jolla Playhouse. She reprised this role in the Broadway production, which opened in April 2018. She was nominated for the 2018 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical.[10] She also frequently performs at Feinstein’s/54 Below.

DeBose played Alyssa Greene in the film adaptation of The Prom, directed by Ryan Murphy.

In March 2021, DeBose released a dance-pop recording and video of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “Shall We Dance” for the album R&H Goes Pop, produced by Justin Goldner and arranged by Benjamin Rauhala.

In 2021, DeBose played Emma Tate in the parody musical comedy series Schmigadoon! on Apple TV+.

She will also star in the spy film Argylle for the service.

Despite initially not seeing herself playing the role and refusing to audition for it, DeBose played Anita in the 2021 film adaptation of the musical West Side Story, directed by Steven Spielberg. The film was released in December 2021 to critical acclaim.[15] DeBose herself received critical attention for her performance of Anita, with Caryn James of BBC praising her performance, declaring, “Anita, in a layered, dynamic performance by Ariana DeBose, is the centre of attention, swirling her skirt and dancing to the Latin rhythms that infuse the film.”[16] David Fear of Rolling Stone magazine wrote, “DeBose…strong contender for Most Valuable Player here, whose energy—in her singing, her dancing, her line-reading, her side-eyeing—could power a metropolitan block.”[17] She also received various critics award nominations, including the Golden Globe Awards and the Critics Choice Awards.

In February 2021, it was announced that she would play Kira Foster in the upcoming film I.S.S.

On January 6, 2022, DeBose was announced as the host of Saturday Night Live on January 15, 2022.

Queer

DeBose identifies as queer and came out to her grandparents in 2015.

Unruly Hearts Initiative

In December 2020, DeBose and Jo Ellen Pellman launched the Unruly Hearts Initiative. The initiative was created to help young people connect with organizations and charities that advocate for the LGBTQ+ community.

Acting credits
Theatre

2011 Hairspray Little Inez North Carolina Theatre
Bring It On Nautica, u/s Danielle Alliance Theatre
Company Ensemble Avery Fisher Hall
Bring It On Nautica, u/s Danielle National Tour
2012 St. James Theatre
2013 Motown: The Musical Ensemble, Mary Wilson, u/s Diana Ross Lunt-Fontanne Theatre
2014 Pippin Leading Player (u/s, then replacement) Music Box Theatre
2015 Hamilton: An American Musical Ensemble The Public Theater
Les Misérables Éponine Connecticut Repertory Theatre
Hamilton: An American Musical Ensemble (The Bullet) Richard Rodgers Theatre
2016 A Bronx Tale Jane Longacre Theatre
2017 Summer: The Donna Summer Musical Disco Donna La Jolla Playhouse
2018 Lunt-Fontanne Theatre

Film

2011 Company Ensemble
2018 Seaside Daphne
2020 Hamilton Ensemble/The Bullet
The Prom Alyssa Greene
2021 West Side Story Anita
TBA I.S.S. Film has yet to be released Kira Foster Post-production
TBA Argylle Film has yet to be released TBA Filming

Television

2009 So You Think You Can Dance Herself Season 6; Contestant
2016 Blue Bloods Sophia Ortiz Episode: “The Road to Hell”
Hamilton’s America Herself TV documentary
2021 Schmigadoon! Emma Tate Main role; 6 episodes
2022 Saturday Night Live Herself (host) Episode: “Ariana DeBose/Bleachers”
Awards and nominations
Main article: List of awards and nominations received by Ariana DeBose