Tony nominee Ariana DeBose kicked off the 94th Annual Academy Awards with a win for Best Supporting Actress, for her performance as Anita in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story. The win follows a string of awards successes for DeBose's performance, which has also been honored with Golden Globe, BAFTA, and SAG Awards, among others.
While accepting her award, DeBose thanked her Anita predecessor from the musical's 1961 film adaptation, Rita Moreno. "I'm so grateful. Your Anita paved the way for tons of Anitas like me, and I love you so much."
She continued: "Lastly, imagine this little girl in the backseat of a white Ford Focus. Look into her eyes, you'll see an openly queer woman of color and Afro Latina, who found her strength and life through art, and that's what I believe we're here to celebrate. To anybody who's ever questioned your identity or find yourself living in the gray spaces, I promise you this: There is indeed a place for us."
Watch the Broadway favorite's acceptance full acceptance speech above.
Fellow Broadway alum Troy Kotsur also took home the award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in CODA, becoming the first Deaf man to win an acting Oscar. Kotsur specifically thanked the Deaf theatres that gave him his start in his acceptance speech, referring to such companies as California's Deaf West Theatre, where Kotsur has starred in productions of Spring Awakening, Cyrano, and Big River. Kotsur starred in the latter in its 2003 Broadway transfer as well.
Watch Kotsur's full speech below.
Keep up with all the stage favorites winning 2022 Academy Awards here.