Night of historical firsts at 2022 Academy Awards
‘Dreams come true,’ says Ariana DeBose, 1st Afro-Latina, openly queer woman of color to win an Oscar.
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Despite a violent moment at the 2022 Academy Awards where Best Actor winner Will Smith slapped comedian Chris Rock in the face, it was a historical night at the Oscars on Sunday.
Ariana DeBose became the first Afro-Latina and first openly queer woman of color to win an Oscar, picking up the award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Anita in the Steven Spielberg remake of West Side Story.
“Yikes! What is this?” said DeBose. “Now you see why Anita wants to be in America because even in this weary world we live in, dreams come true.”
DeBose’s win comes exactly 60 years after Rita Moreno won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her same role in the original West Side Story.
“Your Anita paved the way for tons of Anitas like me,” DeBose said, paying tribute to Moreno, who won her Oscar in 1962.
In another first, Troy Kotsur became the first deaf male actor to win the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role in CODA (Child Of Deaf Adult), a film about a teenage girl who is the only hearing member of her family learning to connect with her deaf parents and brother through singing.
“This is dedicated to the deaf community, the CODA community, and the disabled community. This is our moment,” said Kotsur. “I really want to thank all of the wonderful deaf theater stages where I was allowed and given the opportunity to develop my craft as an actor.”
Marlee Matlin, Kotsur’s wife in the film, became the first deaf actor to win an Academy Award in 1987. Matlin won the Best Actress Oscar for the film Children of a Lesser God.
CODA also took home the top prize of the night, winning Best Picture Oscar over a crowded nomination field of 10 films.
In addition, Sian Heder, who wrote and directed CODA, picked up an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for the film.
“I want to thank all of my collaborators in the deaf community, in the CODA community, for being my teachers,” she said.
Jessica Chastain won her first Oscar for Best Actress, playing the role of glitzy televangelist Tammy Faye Messner in the biopic The Eyes of Tammy Faye.
She used her acceptance speech to point out challenges being faced by the LGBT community in the US “who oftentimes feel out of place with their peers.”
“We’re faced with discriminatory and bigoted legislation that is sweeping our country with the only goal of further dividing us,” said Chastain, “and in times like this, I think of Tammy, and I’m inspired by her radical acts of love.”
Smith took home the Oscar for Best Actor after slapping Rock across the face during an altercation earlier in the awards ceremony. He cryptically addressed the situation, referring to the character he played in the movie King Richard.
“Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family,” said Smith. “Art imitates life. I look like the crazy father…just like they said about Richard Williams.”
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