ABOVE PHOTO: Ariana DeBose attends the BAFTA Film Awards 2023 at The Royal Festival Hall in London, England.
By Mark Kennedy
NEW YORK — Ariana DeBose’s stint as host of last year’s Tony Awards went so well that she’s been asked to return this year.
The Academy Award winner and Tony Award nominee will lead the June 11 celebration from New York City’s uptown United Palace theater live on CBS and on Paramount+.
“I was honored to serve as host last year and even more so to be asked back,” DeBose said in a statement. “So looking forward to celebrating this incredible season and the people who make the work happen.”
Tony nominations will be announced May 2.
DeBose is a theater veteran, with roles in “Summer: The Donna Summer Musical,” “Hamilton,” “A Bronx Tale,” “Pippin,” “Motown the Musical,” “Bring It On: The Musical” and “Company.” She won an Oscar for her role in Steven Spielberg’s remake of “West Side Story” and can be seen in the new season of “Schmigadoon!” on Apple TV+.
“A Strange Loop” took the best new musical crown at the last Tony Awards. Joaquina Kalukango won for best leading actress in a musical, and Myles Frost moonwalked away with the award for best lead actor in a musical for playing Michael Jackson.
At that Tonys, DeBose broached the subject of diversity and representation on Broadway, saying it was becoming “more reflective of the community that adores it.” She noted the season was full of Black creative voices both on and offstage, and that two Broadway theaters were being renamed for the great Black performers James Earl Jones and Lena Horne. And she quipped that she sees the phrase “The Great White Way,” as Broadway has long been called, to be a nickname — “as opposed to a how-to guide.”
She received some backlash on social media after performing an original rap in honor of the female nominees at the Feb. 19 BAFTA Awards show in London. Her performance 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 actors like Angela Bassett, Viola Davis and Jamie Lee Curtis.
“I had a blast,” she said later.
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