Just as Rita Moreno was nominated for an Oscar 50 years ago, Ariana DeBose has also been nominated in the category of Best Supporting Actress for her performance of the role of Anita in West Side Story.

Advertisement

Rita Moreno returned for Steven Spielberg's 2021 adaptation of West Side Story in the newly created role of Valentina, Doc's widow. 'Valentina’s backstory is 25 pages long,' says screenwriter Tony Kushner. 'It’s like a little novel, starting with her early life in Puerto Rico, and it includes how Tony came to live in the basement of her drugstore. It spans the first half of the 20th century.'

Moreno won the award for Best Supporting Actress at the 34th Academy Awards, winning against actors from The Children's Hour, Judgment at Nuremberg, The Roman Spring of Mrs Stone and Summer and Smoke. Recalling her efforts to initially get the role of Anita she says, 'I worked my little Puerto Rican ass off auditioning for it. I did in-person readings and then I did screen tests. I worked so hard to get it; I auditioned for the singing, I auditioned for the dancing. I was up to my behind in auditions. Every little dark-haired girl in California was auditioning for this.'

She is the only original cast member to feature in the new film, and also served as an executive producer.

Ariana DeBose is up against Jessie Buckley (The Lost Daughter), Judi Dench (Belfast), Kirsten Dunst (The Power of the Dog) and Aunjanue Ellis (King Richard) in this category.

West Side Story has seven nominations in total at this year's Academy Award, including Best Picture. Nominations have also gone to West Side Story for Best Director, Best Sound, Best Production Design, Best Cinematography and Best Costume Design.

Advertisement

The winners will be announced at a ceremony at the Dolby Theatre on 27 March.

Authors

Freya ParrDigital Editor and Staff Writer, BBC Music Magazine

Freya Parr is BBC Music Magazine's Digital Editor and Staff Writer. She has also written for titles including the Guardian, Circus Journal, Frankie and Suitcase Magazine, and runs The Noiseletter, a fortnightly arts and culture publication. Freya's main areas of interest and research lie in 20th-century and contemporary music.