Oscars 2022: Ariana DeBose wins best supporting actress for 'West Side Story'

Rita Moreno won for playing the same role 60 years ago.

March 27, 2022, 8:38 PM

Ariana DeBose won the Academy Award for best supporting actress at the 2022 Oscars.

DeBose, 31, snagged the trophy for her role as Anita in Steven Spielberg's movie musical "West Side Story," which is based on the 1957 Broadway show of the same name.

"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 really a heartening right now," DeBose said in her acceptance speech.

DeBose gave a shout-out to "the divine inspiration" of Rita Moreno, who won the same Oscar 60 years ago at the 1962 Academy Awards for playing Anita in Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise's 1961 film adaptation of "West Side Story."

PHOTO: Rita Moreno, left, and Ariana DeBose arrive at the Oscars, March 27, 2022, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.
Rita Moreno, left, and Ariana DeBose arrive at the Oscars, March 27, 2022, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.
Jae C. Hong/Invision/AP

"You're staring at me right now and I'm so grateful," DeBose said to Moreno. "Your Anita paved the way for tons of Anitas like me and I love you so much."

DeBose closed out her speech with a powerful message about representation.

"Lastly, imagine this little girl in the back seat of a white Ford Focus. Look into her eyes, you see an openly queer woman of color and Afro-Latina who found her strength in life through art, and that's what I believe we're here to celebrate," she said. "So to anyone who has ever questioned your identity -- ever, ever, ever -- or you find yourself living in the gray spaces, I promise you this: There is indeed a place for us."

In winning, DeBose beat out fellow nominees Jesse Buckley ("The Lost Daughter"), Judi Dench ("Belfast"), Kirsten Dunst ("The Power of the Dog") and Aunjanue Ellis ("King Richard").

DeBose was the favorite to win, having won the equivalent of the best supporting actress Oscar at the SAG Awards, the Golden Globes, the BAFTAs and the Critics' Choice Awards in the lead-up to the 94th Academy Awards.

DeBose and Moreno, who are both of Puerto Rican heritage, join an elite club of actors who won Academy Awards for playing the same character, becoming the first women to do so and having the widest gap between their Oscar-winning performances.

The first pair to do this was Marlon Brando and Robert De Niro for playing Vito Corleone in 1972's "The Godfather" and 1974's "The Godfather: Part II," respectively winning best actor and best supporting actor for their work.

The other pair is Heath Ledger and Joaquin Phoenix, who both played the Joker. Ledger posthumously won best supporting actor for 2008's "The Dark Knight" and Phoenix won best actor for 2019's "The Joker."

GLAAD's president and CEO, Sarah Kate Ellis, reacted to DeBose's win, which saw her become the first openly queer woman of color to win an Academy Award.

"Ariana DeBose is an immensely talented actress and a tremendous advocate for LGBTQ people and people of color," Ellis said in a statement. "She not only made history tonight as the first queer woman of color to win an Oscar, but she sent a beautiful and timely message to LGBTQ young people. I hope LGBTQ youth around the world saw her win, heard her speak and recognize that they too should dream big."

For more coverage of the 2022 Oscars from "Good Morning America," click here.

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