SPEECH BY: Ariana DeBose

FILM: "West Side Story"

Oh, my God.  Yikes.  Okay.  Oh, my word.  You know what?  What is this?  You know, now you see why Anita says "I want to live in America" ‑‑ because even in this weary world that we live in, dreams do come true.  And that's really the heartening thing right now. 


If I took the time to say thank you to every single beautiful person who has lifted me up on this stage, you'd find people would be sitting here till next Oscars.  So, I'm not going to do that.  Just allow me to say it was a summer of a lifetime, and I am the most privileged and grateful to have spent it with all of you. 


My God.  Thank you, Steven Spielberg.  You're stuck with me now.  Yay. 


Thank you Kristie Macosko Krieger, Tony Kushner, and the divine inspiration that is Rita Moreno.  You're staring at me right now.  And I am so grateful.  Your Anita paved the way for tons of Anitas like me, and I love so much. 


I'm going to wrap this up and talk about my family.  My mother who is here tonight.  Mama, I love you with my whole heart, and this as much yours as it is mine.  Some of my tribesmen:  My family, my love, Sue; Jonathan, Diana, Anthony Calamita.  I wouldn't do what I do without each and every one of you. 


So lastly:  Imagine this little girl in the backseat of a white Ford focus.  Look into her eyes.  You see queer – 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.  Yeah. 


So, to anybody who has ever questioned your identity, ever, ever, or you find yourself living in the gray spaces, I promise you this:  There is indeed a place for us.  


Thank you to the Academy and thank you all.

Acceptance speech transcripts for the 94th Academy Awards are created by a team of transcribers in real time and with minimal editing, for the benefit of the press on the night. They may contain omissions and errors, especially in the spelling of names. Clips of winner acceptance speeches may be found on

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