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Ariana DeBose makes Oscars history with win for 'West Side Story'

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Ariana DeBose makes Oscars history with win for 'West Side Story'
Ariana DeBose became the first Afro Latina and openly queer woman of color to win an Academy Award. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

March 28 (UPI) -- Ariana DeBose made history at the 94th annual Academy Awards.

The 31-year-old actress became the first Afro Latina and openly queer woman of color to win an Oscar at the awards show Sunday in Los Angeles.

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DeBose won Best Supporting Actress for her role as Anita in West Side Story, a musical directed by Steven Spielberg.

"Imagine this little girl in the back seat of a white Ford Focus. Look into her eyes -- you see an openly queer woman of color, an Afro Latina, who found her strength in life through art. And that's what I believe we're here to celebrate," DeBose said in her acceptance speech.

"So to anybody who's ever questioned your identity ever, ever, ever, or find yourself living in the grey spaces, I promise you this: There is indeed a place for us," she added.

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DeBose previously won a Golden Globe, a BAFTA and a Screen Actors Guild award for her role in West Side Story.

West Side Story is based on the stage musical of the same name, which was previously adapted as a 1961 film. Spielberg's version stars Ansel Elgort and Rachel Zegler, and opened in theaters in December.

DeBose came to fame as a contestant in So You Think You Can Dance Season 6, which aired in 2009. She has since appeared in the Netflix film The Prom and the Apple TV+ series Schmigadoon!

CODA, Jessica Chastain and Will Smith were among the other big winners at the Oscars. Smith made headlines after slapping comedian and Oscars presenter Chris Rock on stage.

Winners of 2022 Oscars

Jessica Chastain, winner of Best Actress for "The Eyes of Tammy Faye," appears backstage with her Oscar. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

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