Ariana DeBose’s BAFTA Performance Gives New Meaning to ‘Ariana What Are You Doing Here’
Ariana DeBose brought her güagüancó to the stiff BAFTA Awards, and it seemed out of place to many.
The Oscar winner and her dancers opened the ceremony by bursting onto the stage after presenter Richard E. Grant’s opening monologue with a tribute to the women in the room.
DeBose sang “Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves” and “We Are Family,” as well as an original rap, highlighting the talent of the women nominated for the awards.
“Angela Bassett did the thing, Viola Davis my ‘Woman King,’ Blanchett Cate, you’re a genius, Jamie Lee, you are all of us,” sang DeBose, dancing with the talent that won her love and recognition on the Broadway boards.
However, for those who haven’t danced beyond their living rooms, the performance was clumsy and subjected Ariana DeBose to unscrupulous trolling on social media.
For Stuart Heritage, reviewer for The Guardian, “technically it was a musical performance by Ariana DeBose, but it was a performance so gormless, so busy, so deeply and unsettlingly confusing, that to give it a name would only serve to minimize it.”
However, for both the performance producer and those who have paid attention, DeBose’s presentation was full of meaning.
Ariana DeBose pays tribute to her queens
Whether Ariana DeBose was invited to perform at the coronation of King Charles or not, we all agreed when she said, “Viola Davis, my woman King.”
Likewise, the West Side Story actress recognized Angela Bassett for her awards nomination and her talented career as Tina Turner, Michelle Obama, or Lady Percy; she acknowledged the talent of Kate Blanchett, Jamie Lee, Michelle Yeoh, and Danielle Deadwyler.
“I made the British people clap,” she said to co-host Alison Hammond backstage later in the show.
But perhaps the British world wasn’t ready for her talent.
For Nick Bullen, producer of the BAFTA Awards, the Twitter criticism of Ariana DeBose was “incredibly unfair.”
“We wanted to open the show with some energy, some fun, and also lay out straight away that this was hopefully going to feel like a different night, but with a familiarity as well, and what Ariana did was exactly that,” says Bullen.
“I think a lot of people don’t like change, and there’s a view that the BAFTAs have to be this slightly stiff, traditional British, middle-England messaging. But American awards shows have much more razzmatazz, much more showbiz, and perhaps a broader range of people being involved. We felt we were not about revolution. We’re about evolution.”
And while DeBose shut down her Twitter account to protect her mental health, she seems to be on top of what really matters.
Under a popular Instagram post that compiled some of the funniest memes generated after her BAFTA performance, the actress commented Monday, “Honestly, I love this.”
And so do we.