Ariana DeBose

Ariana DeBose
Ariana DeBose for Bibhu Mohapatra, September 2020.png
DeBose in 2020
Born (1991-01-25) January 25, 1991 (age 31)
EducationWestern Carolina University
  • Actress
  • singer
  • dancer
Years active2009–present
AwardsFull list

Ariana DeBose (/ˌɑːriˈɑːnə dəˈbz/;[1] born January 25, 1991) is an American actress, singer, and dancer. She is the recipient of various accolades, including an Academy Award, a British Academy Film Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, and a Golden Globe Award, in addition to a nomination for a Tony Award.

DeBose made her television debut competing on So You Think You Can Dance in 2009. She then made her Broadway debut in the musical Bring It On: The Musical in 2011 and appeared in further Broadway roles in Motown: The Musical in 2013 and Pippin in 2014. She also appeared as The Bullet in the original cast of Hamilton from 2015 to 2016 and as Jane in A Bronx Tale from 2016 to 2017. In 2018, she was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for her role as Donna Summer in Summer: The Donna Summer Musical.

DeBose also appeared in the filmed stage recording of Hamilton, which was released in 2020 on Disney+. She played Alyssa Greene in Netflix's The Prom (2020) and Emma in the Apple TV+ musical comedy series Schmigadoon! (2021). DeBose garnered widespread recognition and critical praise with her role as Anita in Steven Spielberg's film adaptation of West Side Story (2021), earning her the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

Early life

DeBose was born on January 25, 1991, in Wilmington, North Carolina. Her mother, Gina DeBose, is an 8th grade teacher.[2] DeBose trained in dance at CC & Co. Dance Complex in Raleigh.[3] DeBose has stated that her father is Puerto Rican and her mother is white, and that she also has African-American and Italian ancestry.[4]


Early work and Broadway roles (2009-2016)

DeBose made her television debut in 2009, when she competed on the TV series So You Think You Can Dance, making it into the Top 20.[5] She later appeared on the soap opera One Life to Live and played Inez in the North Carolina Theatre's production of Hairspray before appearing in the role of Nautica in the 2011 Alliance Theatre production of Bring It On. She also appeared in the ensemble of the New York Philharmonic production of Company, which was filmed for television.[6] At the end of 2011, Bring It On embarked on a national tour across the United States. DeBose continued her role into the 2012 Broadway production and understudied the character Danielle.

In 2013, DeBose played Mary Wilson in Motown on Broadway, understudying the role of Diana Ross.[6] She later joined the cast of Pippin on Broadway, playing a noble and a player and understudying the role of the Leading Player, which she ended up taking over for a short period in 2014.[6] She can be heard playing director/choreographer Zoey Taylor in As the Curtain Rises, an original Broadway soap opera podcast from the Broadway Podcast Network.

In 2015, DeBose left Pippin to join the ensemble of the off-Broadway musical Hamilton. The show moved to Broadway later that year. She left Hamilton in July 2016 and made a guest appearance on the TV series Blue Bloods as Sophia Ortiz. She also starred as Daphne in the thriller film Seaside. From November 2016 to August 2017, DeBose portrayed Jane on Broadway in A Bronx Tale.[7]

Breakthrough and critical success (2017-present)

In late 2017, DeBose received her breakthrough role, playing Disco Donna in Summer: The Donna Summer Musical at San Diego's La Jolla Playhouse. She reprised this role in the Broadway production, which opened in April 2018.[8] She was nominated for the 2018 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical.[9]

DeBose in 2022

DeBose played Alyssa Greene in the film adaptation of The Prom, directed by Ryan Murphy.[citation needed] In March 2021, DeBose released a dance-pop recording and video of Rodgers & Hammerstein's "Shall We Dance" for the album R&H Goes Pop, produced by Justin Goldner and arranged by Benjamin Rauhala.[10] In 2021, DeBose played Emma Tate in the parody musical comedy series Schmigadoon! on Apple TV+.[11] She will also star in the spy film Argylle for the service.[12]

Despite initially not seeing herself playing the role and refusing to audition for it,[13] DeBose played Anita in the 2021 film adaptation of the musical West Side Story, directed by Steven Spielberg. The film was released in December 2021 to critical acclaim.[14] DeBose herself received critical attention for her performance of Anita,[15][16] with Caryn James of BBC praising her performance, declaring, "Anita, in a layered, dynamic performance by Ariana DeBose, is the centre of attention, swirling her skirt and dancing to the Latin rhythms that infuse the film."[17] David Fear of Rolling Stone wrote, "DeBose...strong contender for Most Valuable Player here, whose energy—in her singing, her dancing, her line-reading, her side-eyeing—could power a metropolitan block."[18] She also received multiple accolades, including a Golden Globe Award, a BAFTA Award, a Critics' Choice Movie Award, and a Screen Actors Guild Award, making her the first Afro-Latina and openly queer woman of color to win the latter award,[19] and the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

DeBose will next star in the upcoming science-fiction thriller I.S.S..[20][21] She will also appear in the upcoming superhero film Kraven the Hunter, directed by J.C. Chandor.[22]

Personal life

DeBose identifies as queer[23] and came out to her grandparents in 2015.[24]

In December 2020, DeBose and Jo Ellen Pellman launched the Unruly Hearts Initiative. The initiative was created to help young people connect with organizations and charities that advocate for the LGBTQ+ community.[25]

DeBose is in a relationship with costume designer and professor Sue Makkoo. The pair met while working on Summer: The Donna Summer Musical in 2017.[26] Previously, DeBose was in a romantic relationship with theater props master Jill Johnson. The pair met while both were working on the musical Hamilton.[27]

Acting credits


Year Title Role Theatre
2011 Hairspray Little Inez North Carolina Theatre
Bring It On Nautica, u/s Danielle Alliance Theatre
Company Ensemble Avery Fisher Hall
Bring It On Nautica, u/s Danielle National Tour
2012 St. James Theatre
2013 Motown: The Musical Ensemble, Mary Wilson, u/s Diana Ross Lunt-Fontanne Theatre
2014 Pippin Leading Player (u/s, then replacement) Music Box Theatre
2015 Hamilton Ensemble/The Bullet The Public Theater
Les Misérables Éponine Connecticut Repertory Theatre
Hamilton Ensemble Richard Rodgers Theatre
2016 A Bronx Tale Jane Longacre Theatre
2017 Summer: The Donna Summer Musical Disco Donna La Jolla Playhouse
2018 Lunt-Fontanne Theatre


Films that have not yet been released Denotes productions that have not yet been released
Year Title Role Notes
2011 Company Ensemble
2018 Seaside Daphne
2020 Hamilton Ensemble/The Bullet
The Prom Alyssa Greene
2021 West Side Story Anita
2023 Kraven the Hunter Film has yet to be released Calypso Ezili Filming[28]
TBA I.S.S. Film has yet to be released Kira Foster Post-production
TBA Argylle Film has yet to be released TBA Post-production


Year Title Role Notes
2009 So You Think You Can Dance Herself Season 6; Contestant
2016 Blue Bloods Sophia Ortiz Episode: "The Road to Hell"
Hamilton's America Herself TV documentary
2021 Schmigadoon! Emma Tate Main role; 6 episodes
2022 Saturday Night Live Herself (host) Episode: "Ariana DeBose/Bleachers"
Human Resources Danielle (voice) Episode: "Rutgers is for Lovers"
Step into the Movies Herself (dancer) Episode: "Step into the Movies with Derek and Julianne Hough"

Awards and nominations


  1. ^ "The "West Side Story" Cast Finds Out Which Characters They Really Are". BuzzFeed Celeb. December 13, 2021. Retrieved January 6, 2022.
  2. ^ Menconi, David (June 8, 2018). "After 'Hamilton,' NC native is up for a Tony for portraying disco queen Donna Summer". News & Observer.
  3. ^ "Bio". Archived from the original on October 5, 2016. Retrieved October 6, 2016.
  4. ^ Button, Simon (October 22, 2018). "The star of Donna Summer's musical on speaking up for queer women of colour". GAY TIMES. my father was Puerto Rican, so I don't identify with any specific ethnicity either ... I do have African-American lineage, but I'm also part-Italian.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. ^ "Ariana DeBose". IMDb. Retrieved October 6, 2016.
  6. ^ a b c "Ariana DeBose". Playbill. Retrieved October 6, 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  7. ^ "Ariana DeBose". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved February 4, 2018.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  8. ^ Lefkowitz, Andy (February 2, 2018). "LaChanze, Ariana DeBose & Storm Lever Will Lead Summer: The Donna Summer Musical to Broadway". Retrieved February 4, 2018.
  9. ^ Cox, Gordon (May 1, 2018). "Tony Nominations 2018: 'Mean Girls,' 'SpongeBob' Score Big (Complete List)". Retrieved May 1, 2018.
  10. ^ "VIDEO: Ariana DeBose Sings Reimagined 'Shall We Dance?' For R&H Goes Pop!". BroadwayWorld. March 24, 2021. Retrieved April 8, 2021.
  11. ^ Apple TV+. "Schmigadoon!". Apple TV+. Retrieved June 27, 2021.
  12. ^ Kit, Borys (September 30, 2021). "Ariana DeBose Joins Henry Cavill in Matthew Vaughn's 'Argylle'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 30, 2021.
  13. ^ Tangkay, Jazz (January 21, 2022). "Ariana DeBose Turned Down 'West Side Story' Audition Four Times, Says Casting Director Cindy Tolan". Variety. Retrieved January 23, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  14. ^ McPhee, Ryan (January 14, 2019). "West Side Story Film Casts Ariana DeBose, David Alvarez, and More". Playbill. Retrieved September 27, 2019.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  15. ^ Teti, Julia (March 2, 2022). "How To Watch West Side Story At Home: Stream The Oscar-Nominated Film". SheKnows. Retrieved March 7, 2022.
  16. ^ "'West Side Story' star Ariana DeBose makes 'SNL' hosting debut". TheGrio. January 16, 2022. Retrieved March 7, 2022.
  17. ^ "Five Stars for West Side Story". BBC News. Retrieved December 23, 2021.
  18. ^ "'West Side Story' Is Classic Spielberg, Classic Moviemaking — Just Classic, Period". Rolling Stone. December 23, 2021.
  19. ^ "'West Side Story' Star Ariana DeBose Wins First SAG Award for Supporting Role". The Hollywood Reporter. February 28, 2022.
  20. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (February 1, 2021). "'The Prom' & 'West Side Story' Star Ariana DeBose Joins Space Thriller 'ISS'". Deadline. Retrieved February 1, 2021.
  21. ^ Gans, Andrew (February 1, 2021). "Ariana DeBose Lands Role in Space Thriller ISS". Playbill. Retrieved February 1, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  22. ^ Kroll, Justin (March 1, 2022). "'Kraven The Hunter': Oscar Nominee Ariana DeBose To Play Calypso In Sony's Marvel Pic". Deadline Hollywood.
  23. ^ Pierre, Mekishana (December 11, 2020). "Ariana DeBose Explains Why Having Queer Leads Makes The Prom So Special". PopSugar. Retrieved December 13, 2020.
  24. ^ Voss, Brandon (May 31, 2018). "Ariana DeBose on Playing and Forgiving Donna Summer: 'Legends Make Mistakes, Too'". NewNowNext. Retrieved December 13, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  25. ^ Meyer, Dan (December 14, 2020). "The Prom Stars Ariana DeBose and Jo Ellen Pellman Launch Unruly Hearts Initiative". Playbill. Retrieved December 21, 2020.
  26. ^ Nelson, Alex (March 28, 2022). "Ariana DeBose: who is 'openly queer' West Side Story actress and 2022 Oscar winner - and partner Sue Makkoo". National World.
  27. ^ Spaner, Whitney (October 6, 2015). "This Hamilton Star and Her Girlfriend on Making Time for Date Night While in Broadway's Hottest Show". Playbill.
  28. ^ Dick, Jeremy (March 20, 2022). "Sony's Kraven the Hunter Movie Starts Filming, First Set Footage Revealed". MovieWeb. Archived from the original on March 20, 2022. Retrieved March 20, 2022.

External links


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