BBC The Graham Norton Show: Who is Ariana DeBose?

Ariana DeBose is on The Graham Norton Show on Friday, February 4, and if you don’t know about her already you will after the show.

The 31-year-old has just been nominated for two awards at this year’s EE British Academy Film Awards (Baftas) – one for EE Rising Star and the other for Best Supporting Actress – and has already scooped a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress.

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The role for which she’s receiving all these plaudits for is Anita in Steven Speilberg’s West Side Story. Talking about playing Anita, she said on the show: “It is an extravaganza of a role.”

And on the subject of receiving two Bafta nominations for the role, she added: “It’s wild, so crazy. I didn’t even know that was a thing you could do. I am honoured.

“My fingers are very crossed that we can make it happen that I am back here for the awards.”



Ariana as Anita in West Side Story

What else has Ariana done?

Before hitting cinema screens as Anita, North Carolina native Ariana has had a busy stage career starring in Motown, Pippin, A Bronx Tale and Hamilton on Broadway.

Her stage success is something she’s credited to being kicked off by US TV dance competition, So You Think You Can Dance, back in 2009.

She’s said in interview that her exit from the show was “a huge blow to my then pretty small, but healthy, ego” but she added: “What I viewed as a failure with So You Think You Can Dance led me to New York to try theatre. I had done musicals in high school, and I loved them because they were so challenging.”

On the small screen fans of Ryan Murphy productions will have seen her in The Prom on Netflix, on which she was Alyssa Green and she also played Emma Tate in the parody musical comedy series Schmigadoon! on Apple TV+.

In January 2022 Ariana hosted the US live sketch show, Saturday Night Live.

What about off-screen?

At 19 she dropped out of college and moved to New York from her home in Raleigh, sofa surfing for a while and she had to ration her food when the work was thin on the ground.

She told home decor website mydomaine.com that she ate peanut butter and jam sandwiches and 50-cent coffees each morning because it’s all she could afford.

DeBose, who identifies as Afro-Latina and queer., added: “When I ran out of money, I ate ice cream.”

When she was 15, DeBose had won a dance contest sponsored by ice cream parlor chain Cold Stone Creamery and the prize was $15,000, plus free shakes and smoothies for life.

The article also revealed that during the pandemic, DeBose left Manhatten to upstate New York where she shares a two-bedroom cottage with her costume designer girlfriend, Sue Makkoo.

The Graham Norton Show, airs on Fridays, BBC One at 10.35pm and is available on BBC iPlayer.

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