Ariana DeBose is booked and busy. In 2023, she has Apple TV+ series Schmigadoon! coming out, followed by a space thriller, a Marvel movie, and an animated Disney musical. Plus this Sunday she’s going to host the Tonys televised ceremony, even though the WGA strike continues. To promote these projects and reflect on her banner year, she talked to Marie Claire about her Oscar win, her experience with Disney, and why she’s not on Twitter anymore. Embarrassingly, I have not seen her in West Side Story, so my exposure to Ariana is limited. But I came away from it finding her pretty likeable. A lot of people who experience a meteoric rise to fame let it go to their heads, but she seems pretty grounded.
On her upcoming Disney movie, Wish: “Even with the tumultuous times that we live in and with all the anti-LGBTQ+ hate legislation, what’s going on in Florida, they’ve stood by me,” she says of [Disney]. “They’ve allowed me to be a real partner in the making of this movie. If I can create a great working environment and be a part of the positive things that are going on, that makes more room for other people who look like me, who identify like me to come in and do the same.”
On why people have a hard time with ambitious women: “Ambition is scary to some people, because when people see someone going after their dreams, it can be a reminder of all the things that they did not move forward to accomplish. That can create animosity and resentment, and that can feel threatening,” she says. “It takes courage to be ambitious, to dare to go after what you want or believe you can achieve. And that is not for everybody. And that’s okay.”
She’s going to host the Tonys this Sunday despite the writer’s strike: DeBose says that while she “honors” the WGA’s battle for better compensation, Broadway, still recovering from the pandemic, needs her support as well. “We get this one night to come into homes across America to show people what this community does and ultimately, that exchange feeds back into our livelihoods, into keeping these shows running, to keeping people employed, allowing people to have healthcare, a pension, to get back on their feet,” she says. “I would’ve regretted not showing up for them in a time like this.”
She’s done with Twitter after getting hate for the BAFTAs rap: “I don’t f–k with Twitter anymore because it’s the hater Olympics. Why do you need a gold medal in hate? I don’t get it,” she says. “I’m ambitious, but I’m not in the business of ripping people apart. So, you keep your gold medals in hate and I’m going to go do me somewhere else.”
[From Marie Claire]
They also ask her about the infamous BAFTAs rap at length and I kind of wish they wouldn’t. People went so overboard in their response to it and I don’t think she should have to keep reliving that experience in interviews. As for her decision to host the Tonys despite the writer’s strike, I have some ambivalence about it. On the one hand, she’s right that Broadway deserves support as an industry. On the other, how many people really watch the Tony awards on television? And as a former union member, I would have a really hard time crossing a picket line, figuratively or literally. The things she says about Disney are nice but until that company starts to tell actual queer stories in its content, I don’t think the company fully supports its queer creators or queer fans. I’m sure she has to say that kind of thing, and it’s not on her to change Disney’s culture. Someone at the top has to decide to adapt Disney’s content to include stories that acknowledge the fact that LGBTQ+ people exist–and treat their stories as interesting in their own right.
Ariana is right about Twitter. While Black Twitter is a gift to all of us, and Twitter communicates news in real time to populations that might not otherwise have access, I think the platform is not a great place to be in general, even before Elon took over in the most spectacularly feckless way. I got out of there years ago because I didn’t want to ride the waves of aggression and public shaming that wash across the platform every 16 hours. I didn’t want to let it affect me. Twitter has created a collapse of context, but it also fosters this culture of finding a new sacrificial lamb with each new day. Ariana was the target of the day; her awkward performance was used as an outlet for collective aggression. And the fact that she’s a Black, Latina, queer woman who is super successful and talented? It triggers people even more. I’m glad she’s not on social media.
Photos credit: Darla Khazei / Avalon and via Instagram/Marie Claire
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