Photo courtesy of Jayy Manik

This year has been a whirlwind of emotions for Ariana DeBose. After making history by becoming the first queer Afro-Latina to win a SAG Award, she won a Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination for her role as Anita in the remake of the classic ‘West Side Story.’ It’s clear that Ariana DeBose’s talent and personality will bring more good news along the way. So here are five things you probably didn’t know about her.

It all started with dancing

It’s no wonder that today DeBose’s career in Broadway musicals has made her stand out for her dancing skills. After taking dance lessons from an early age at the CC & Co Dance Center in her hometown of Raleigh, North Carolina.

It all started in 2009 when DeBose decided to participate in the dance program “So You Think You Can Dance?” and was selected among hundreds of people. DeBose made it to the Top 20. She then decided to join the theater program at Western Carolina University.

Her career took off on Broadway

Despite having made his television debut in the dance show “So You Think You Can Dance?” and a small role in the soap opera One Life to Live, DeBose began her career in musicals. In 2011 she made her major debut in the Broadway musical “Bring It On: The Musical.” Later, she would appear in “Motown: The Musical” and “Pippin.”

In 2015 she appeared in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s off-Broadway production of “Hamilton.” In 2018, the musical “Summer: The Donna Summer Musical” opened on Broadway, in which she plays Disco Donna. This role would earn her a Tony Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical.

She’s all in for diversity and accepting others

When it comes to her heritage, DeBose is very proud to identify as Afro-Latina. She’s the daughter of an Afro-Puerto Rican father and a white mother. Even though she has felt discriminated against at times, nothing has stopped her from speaking out about her heritage and how discovering herself in this regard has also helped her discover herself as a woman and her sexuality.

DeBose openly identifies as queer and celebrates everyone defining themselves as they are and staying true to what they want.

She uses her platform to inspire and help others

As part of the LGTBQ+ community, she seeks to help others through her experience. Since coming out openly and identifying as a queer woman, her fight to help others has not stopped and for new generations to have a support system.

In December 2020, DeBose and her co-star on “The Prom,” Jo Ellen Pellman, teamed up to launch the ‘Unruly Hearts Initiative,’ an initiative that works to help people with a desire to collaborate and donate with organizations that advocate for the LGBTQ+ community and provide solutions for those who need it most.

She’s already planning her next steps 

We are just seeing what will be the beginning of a magnificent career. DeBose is working on her next projects. She will appear in the space thriller ‘I.S.S.’ alongside actor Chris Messina; she will also be part of the action film ‘Argylle,’ alongside actor Henry Cavill in director Matthew Vaughn’s new production for Apple.