Ariana DeBose Speaks Out for First Time Since Viral BAFTAs Musical Performance: ‘I Had a Great Time’


“We did that and it was fun. Not gonna lie, I had a blast,” the Oscar-winning singer and actress said.

Ariana DeBose attends the EE BAFTA Film Awards 2023 at The Royal Festival Hall on Feb. 19, 2023 in London.

Dominic Lipinski/GI

Ariana DeBose is opening up about her show-opening musical medley at the 2023 BAFTA Awards.

During an interview on BBC Radio 2’s The Zoe Ball Breakfast Show, the Oscar-winning singer and actress spoke out for the first time since receiving backlash on social media after performing an original rap in honor of the female nominees at the Feb. 19 awards show in London.

Host Zoe Ball opened the conversation by praising DeBose’s performance, which mixed a high-energy medley of Eurythmics‘ “Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves” and Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family” with a rap number that named-checked famous actresses like Angela Bassett, Viola Davis and Jamie Lee Curtis.

“You know what, you might be one of the few,” the West Side Story film reboot actress responded in a video of the interview, which was shared through TikTok on Saturday (Feb. 25). “I’ll take it, because you’re my people.”

The radio show host added, “It was a woman, singing and dancing, being magnificent, celebrating women onstage. Come on!” DeBose agreed, saying, “That’s what I wanted to do.”

“Honestly, it’s not like I’m like, ‘Hey BAFTA, let me in!’ They actually called me, believe it or not,” the actress-singer continued. “But that was the assignment. Like, ‘Come celebrate women,’ and I was like, ‘Absolutely!’ We did that and it was fun. Not gonna lie, I had a blast.”

DeBose went on to say that Elvis director Baz Luhrmann found her after the show and gave her positive feedback about the performance. She also noted that “gay Twitter seemed to like it, so that’s good. I’ll take it.”

But not all viewers enjoyed the musical medley. Following the performance, DeBose faced an avalanche of snarky criticism and memes on social media, which led to the star deactivating her Twitter account.

After the show, BAFTAs producer Nick Bullen came to DeBose’s defense. “I think it’s incredibly unfair, to be frank. I absolutely loved it,” Bullen told Variety. “Everybody I’ve spoken to who was in the room absolutely loved it. She’s a huge star, she was amazing.”

Another admirer of DeBose’s rap was Lizzo, who recreated the viral rap moment during a recent concert. DeBose caught wind of the TikTok video and reposted it on her Instagram page. “The internet is wild y’all!” the West Side Story star wrote. “Appreciate all the love.”

Watch a portion of DeBose’s BBC interview on TikTok below.

Get weekly rundowns straight to your inbox