Ariana DeBose wins Best Supporting Actress Oscar for ‘West Side Story,’ becomes first openly queer woman to prevail

Just like Rita Moreno in 1962, Ariana DeBose has won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for playing Anita in 20th Century Studios’ “West Side Story.” (See the complete Oscars winners list.) The 31-year-old triple threat made a clean sweep of award season, winning every major precursor leading up to the Oscars, including the BAFTA, Critics Choice and Screen Actors Guild Award. While many Oscar experts predicted her victory, it is also a significant win for many reasons.

DeBose makes history as the first openly queer woman of color to win an Oscar for acting, on top of being the first Afro-Latina actress to do so. She is now only the second Latin performer to win in either of the actress categories, joining Moreno, and the ninth Black actress to win in supporting.

Additionally, Anita is the third character in history to win Oscars for multiple actors, following Vito Corleone for Marlon Brando (“The Godfather”) & Robert De Niro (“The Godfather Part II”) and the Joker for Heath Ledger (“The Dark Knight”) & Joaquin Phoenix (“Joker”).

Moreno and DeBose are the only women to pull off this unique dual victory. DeBose earned acclaim from critics for making her version of Anita her own, with the added responsibility of acting alongside Moreno herself, who also appears in the 2021 version of the film.

The “West Side Story” standout won her Oscar over other supporting actress nominees Jessie Buckley (“The Lost Daughter”), Judi Dench (“Belfast”), Kirsten Dunst (“The Power of the Dog”) and Aunjanue Ellis (“King Richard”). The award was presented by last year’s winners for Best Supporting Actor, Daniel Kaluuya, and Best Song, H.E.R.

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