Ariana DeBose becomes the first openly queer woman of color to win an acting Oscar.

Nicole Sperling

Ariana DeBose won the Oscar for best supporting actress for her role as Anita in Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of “West Side Story.” It is her first Academy Award. The outcome was expected but historic nonetheless as the 31-year-old actress becomes only the second Latina to nab an Oscar. The first one was Rita Moreno, who won in 1962 for the same role in the original film version. DeBose is also the first openly queer star to win an acting Oscar.

DeBose beat out Jessie Buckley (“The Lost Daughter”), Judi Dench (“Belfast”), Kirsten Dunst (“The Power of the Dog”) and Aunjanue Ellis (“King Richard”).

In accepting the award, DeBose made reference to being a queer woman of color and said:

Imagine this little girl in the back seat of a white Ford Focus. Look into her eyes. You see a queer — openly queer — woman of color, an Afro-Latina, who found her strength in life through art, and that’s what I believe we are here to celebrate. So to anybody who has ever questioned your identity — ever, ever, ever, — or you find yourself living in the gray spaces, I promise you this: There is indeed a place for us.

DeBose also nabbed statues at the Screen Actors Guild Awards and the British Academy Film Awards for her magnetic performance as an America-loving seamstress who adores both Bernardo and his younger sister, Maria. The actress-singer-dancer has also been nominated for a Tony for her role as Donna Summer in the short-lived musical “Summer: The Donna Summer Musical.”

DeBose will next be seen in Matthew Vaughn’s spy movie, “Argylle,” for Apple TV+.

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