Ariana DeBose Breaks Silence on Backlash to BAFTAs Rap

The actor deactivated her Twitter account after the viral awards show performance

BY Megan LaPierrePublished Feb 23, 2023

You could be forgiven for not knowing what the hell the BAFTAs — the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, for what it's worth — are. But you're less likely to have missed that viral clip of Ariana DeBose's rap performance at this weekend's 76th iteration of the awards honouring the best in national and foreign film.

Clad in the fuchsia jumpsuit seen 'round the internet, the Oscar-winning West Side Story actor took to the stage at the ceremony following host Richard E. Grant's opening monologue, performing a medley of "Sisters Are Doing It for Themselves" and "We Are Family" ahead of launching into an original rap name-checking several Best Actress nominees. Cate Blanchett went on to win the award for TÁR, beating out Viola Davis (The Woman King), Emma Thompson (Good Luck to You, Leo Grande), Ana de Armas (Blonde), Michelle Yeoh (Everything Everywhere All at Once) and Danielle Deadwyler (Till).

DeBose's cringey bars, which included lines about Angela Bassett doing "the thing" and Jamie Lee Curtis being "all of us," proceeded to be widely mocked on the famously kind place that is the internet. When the memes went viral, the actor deactivated her Twitter account.

However, her Instagram remains active — and DeBose seems to be taking it in stride. (The same can't be said for Doctor Who actor Phil Davis, who resigned his membership with the arts charity after the "embarrassing travesty" that was the 2023 awards ceremony.)

Commenting on writer Evan Ross Katz's Instagram post (captioned "Babe, wake up, Angela Bassett did the thing") compiling several memes, DeBose wrote: "Honestly I love this."

She further referenced the performance in an Instagram Story about her upcoming show at the London Palladium, reposting a fan's photo of the marquee that read: "I hope she does the thing." The since-disappeared post saw DeBose add a link, joking that they should get tickets and find out. She also later shared a mirror selfie to her Instagram Story and wrote, "Did the thing."

BAFTA producer Nick Bullen also responded to the online criticism of the rap "incredibly unfair." He told Variety:

That rap section in the middle, mentioning the women in the room, was because it's been a great year for women in film, and we wanted to celebrate that. And here is a woman of colour who is at the absolute top of her game. And she's opening the BAFTAs with a song that said so much on so many levels. All of those mentions, I felt, from the moment we were rehearsing it right through to the transmission last night, spoke to what we wanted to do.

If you missed it, learn how to name a woman in film with DeBose's verse below.

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