Ariana DeBose found herself the subject of a controversial joke at Sunday night’s Critics Choice Awards. During the ceremony, actress Bella Ramsey made a joke implying DeBose was among a group of actors who falsely believe they can sing. The joke provoked mixed reactions, with some criticizing it as rude and unnecessary. DeBose has now responded, making it clear she did not find the joke amusing.
Ariana DeBose is coming off a landmark year where she won an Oscar, BAFTA, and Golden Globe for her acclaimed performance as Anita in Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story. She is also a Tony-nominated theater performer known for her singing and dancing abilities.
The 28th Annual Critics Choice Awards, honoring the best in both film and television for 2022, took place on January 15th. As part of the ceremony, actress Bella Ramsey presented the award for Best Song:
“And the critic’s choice is… I guess we’ll never know. I’m just kidding. Sorry, I’ve always wanted to do that ever since I heard the score of West Side Story. And yes, that is a dig at actors who think they can sing. I couldn’t help myself. I’m sorry, Ariana DeBose.”
Ramsey appeared to be implying DeBose’s singing in West Side Story did not live up to the original. The joke drew both laughter and audible groans from the audience.
DeBose Responds: “I Didn’t Find It Funny”
DeBose has now responded to Ramsey’s joke on her Instagram story:
“I see some things haven’t changed… but that’s alright. I’ve always been misunderstood and underestimated. My talent speaks for itself. Being bold and unprecedented only scares some people. But I see no lies told. good luck to anyone trying to get in my way – it’ll never happen.”
The actress clearly did not find the joke funny or appreciate having her singing talents called into question on a night meant to celebrate artistic achievement. She implied the joke stems from implicit biases about both her identity and talents.
DeBose also suggested she is not bothered by the provocation, having dealt with underestimation her whole career, and that she will continue succeeding regardless.
Reactions to Ramsey’s joke have been divisive. Some believe DeBose has proven herself one of the most talented triple-threats of her generation and found the joke in poor taste. Others argued DeBose opened herself to criticism by starring in an iconic musical role.
Actress Jamie Lee Curtis came to DeBose’s defense, tweeting:
“An ignorant joke at a woman’s expense reveals more about the teller. @ArianaDeBose is an astounding talent. I’m awed by her achievements.”
DeBose’s Hamilton co-star Anthony Ramos has also faced criticism for not defending her during the ceremony.
It remains to be seen if there will be any lasting implications from Ramsey’s joke. DeBose maintains a busy upcoming slate including roles in the thriller House Party and musical fantasy film Argylle, plus rumors she may direct a movie musical herself.
With awards season in full swing, DeBose will likely have more opportunities to showcase her singing on stages across Hollywood. Regardless of some lingering skepticism, the overwhelming industry consensus remains that her talent speaks for itself.
Ariana DeBose’s Upcoming Projects
|March 10, 2023
|I’m Still Here
DeBose is set to star in the House Party remake out next month and the star-studded spy film Argylle later this year. She is also attached to musical adaptation The Prom and transgender drama I’m Still Here, though release dates are still pending on both.
While an off-color awards show joke has sparked divisive reactions, Ariana DeBose continues to see overwhelming praise for her undeniable talents. She has shown grace and poise responding to the provocation and remains committed to breaking barriers for marginalized communities through unprecedented representation across film, theater, and beyond.
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