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Ariana DeBose
Ariana Debose during an interview, March 2022.jpg
DeBose in 2022
Born (1991-01-25) January 25, 1991 (age 33)
Occupation Actress
Years active 2009–present
Awards Full list

Ariana DeBose (/ˌɑːriˈɑːnə dəˈbz/; born January 25, 1991) is an American actress. She has received various accolades, including an Academy Award, a British Academy Film Award, a Golden Globe Award, in addition to nominations for a Tony Award and a Primetime Emmy Award. In 2022, Time magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

DeBose was a contestant on the sixth season of So You Think You Can Dance in 2009, where she finished in the top 20. She made her Broadway debut in Bring It On: The Musical in 2011 and continued her work on Broadway with roles in Motown: The Musical (2013) and Pippin (2014). From 2015 to 2016, she was one of the original ensemble members in Lin-Manuel Miranda's musical Hamilton, and appeared as Jane in A Bronx Tale (2016–2017). In 2018, she was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for her performance as Disco Donna in Summer: The Donna Summer Musical. She has also hosted the Tony Award ceremonies in 2022 and 2023.

DeBose has also appeared in the Netflix musical comedy film The Prom (2020) and the Apple TV+ musical comedy series Schmigadoon! (2021–present). She gained wider recognition for her role as Anita in Steven Spielberg's musical film West Side Story (2021), winning the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. She has since voiced the lead role in the Disney animated film Wish (2023).

Early life

DeBose was born on January 25, 1991, in Wilmington, North Carolina. Her mother, Gina DeBose, is an eighth grade teacher. DeBose trained in dance at CC & Co. Dance Complex in Raleigh. DeBose has stated that her father is Puerto Rican and her mother is White. She also has African American and Italian ancestry.


Early work and Broadway roles (2009–2016)

DeBose made her television debut in 2009, when she competed on the TV series So You Think You Can Dance, making it into the Top 20. 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. She later joined the cast of Pippin on Broadway, playing a noble and a player and understudying the role of the Leading Player, which she ended up taking over for a short period in 2014. 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. The show moved to Broadway later that year. 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.

Breakthrough and acclaim (2017–present)

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. Despite mixed reviews she was nominated for the 2018 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical. In 2018 she starred in the film Seaside directed by Sam Zalutsky.

DeBose played Alyssa Greene in the film adaptation of The Prom, directed by Ryan Murphy, where she was opposite of Jo Ellen Pellman as Emma Nolan. 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 schoolmarm Emma Tate in season 1 the parody musical comedy series Schmigadoon! on Apple TV+. In season 2 of Schmigadoon! in 2023, she played the role of Emcee.

Despite 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. DeBose 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." David Fear of Rolling Stone 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." She also received multiple accolades, including a Golden Globe Award, a BAFTA Award, a Critics' Choice Movie Award, and a Screen Actors Guild Award, making her the first Afro-Latina and queer woman of color to win the latter award, and the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

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DeBose in 2022

Following her West Side Story success, it was announced that DeBose would host the 75th Tony Awards. DeBose called the opportunity to host "a bucket list moment" that "I didn't know I had." She received generally positive reviews for the show and received a nomination for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Variety Special (Live). She also made a recurring appearance in the fourth season of the HBO science fiction series Westworld.

DeBose went viral on Twitter after performing at the 76th British Academy Film Awards, where she celebrated the female nominees by name in an original freestyle rap performance. Despite being described by Variety as “a little out of breath at some points” and that the lyrics "felt clumsy", show producer Nick Bullen defended the performance, claiming it was well-received by the live audience and that the criticism was "incredibly unfair" and he "absolutely loved it". The rap went viral with lines like "Angela Bassett did the thing" becoming pop culture sensations. DeBose has subsequently performed the rap in concert. DeBose voiced the character Asha in the 2023 Disney animated film Wish.

DeBose will next star in the upcoming science-fiction thriller I.S.S. She will also appear in the upcoming superhero film Kraven the Hunter, directed by J.C. Chandor. She will star in the spy film Argylle for Apple TV+..

Personal life

DeBose is queer and came out to her grandparents in 2015.

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.

DeBose is in a relationship with costume designer and professor Sue Makkoo. The pair met while working on Summer: The Donna Summer Musical in 2017. Previously, DeBose was in a romantic relationship with theater props master Jill Johnson. The pair met while both were working on Motown: The Musical.



Year Title Role Notes
2011 Company Ensemble
2018 Seaside Daphne
2020 Hamilton Ensemble/The Bullet/Martha
The Prom Alyssa Greene
2021 West Side Story Anita
2023 Once Upon a Studio Asha (voice) Short film
I.S.S. Kira Foster
Wish Asha (voice)
2024 Argylle Films that have not yet been released TBA February 2, 2024
Kraven the Hunter Films that have not yet been released Calypso Post-production
TBA House of Spoils Films that have not yet been released TBA Post-production


Year Title Role Notes
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–present Schmigadoon! Emma Tate / Emcee Main role, 9 episodes
2022 Saturday Night Live Herself (host) Episode: "Ariana DeBose/Bleachers"
Human Resources Danielle (voice) Episode: "Rutgers is for Lovers"
75th Tony Awards Host TV special
Westworld Maya Recurring role, 5 episodes
Bubble Guppies Lulu (voice) Episode: "A Big Splash!"
2023 76th Tony Awards Host TV special


Year Title Role Theatre
2011 Hairspray Little Inez North Carolina Theatre
Bring It On Nautica, u/s Danielle Alliance Theatre, Atlanta
Company Ensemble Avery Fisher Hall, New York City
Bring It On Nautica, u/s Danielle National Tour
2012 St. James Theatre, Broadway
2013 Motown: The Musical Ensemble, Mary Wilson, u/s Diana Ross Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, Broadway
2014 Pippin Leading Player (u/s, then replacement) Music Box Theatre, Broadway
2015 Hamilton Ensemble / Martha / The Bullet The Public Theater, Off-Broadway
Les Misérables Éponine Connecticut Repertory Theatre
Hamilton Ensemble / Martha / The Bullet Richard Rodgers Theatre, Broadway
2016 A Bronx Tale Jane Longacre Theatre, Broadway
2017 Summer: The Donna Summer Musical Disco Donna La Jolla Playhouse, Los Angeles
2018 Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, Broadway
2023 Ariana DeBose In Concert Herself London Palladium, UK
Lincoln Center, New York City

Awards and nominations

In 2022, at the 94th Academy Awards, DeBose won Best Supporting Actress for her role of Anita in Steven Spielberg's 2021 adaptation of West Side Story, the second film adaptation of the 1957 stage musical of the same name. The achievement made DeBose the first Afro-Latina and first openly queer woman of color to win an Academy Award for acting. Additionally, with her win following Rita Moreno's 1962 win in the same category for West Side Story (1961), made DeBose and Moreno the third pair of actors to win an Academy Award for playing the same character in different films. DeBose also became the third Hispanic performer to win Best Supporting Actress and the first in 30 years, after Mercedes Ruehl (The Fisher King, 1991), and to this date, she remains one of only five actors of Hispanic background to win an acting Oscar. That year, DeBose also won the BAFTA, Critics' Choice, Golden Globe and SAG Awards for Best Supporting Actress for the role.

In 2018, DeBose was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for her role in Summer: The Donna Summer Musical. In 2022, DeBose became the twenty-first American actor to be nominated for the BAFTA Rising Star Award.

See also

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