BAFTAs Producer Defends Ariana DeBose Following Opening Number Backlash
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So You Think You Can Dance alum Ariana DeBose appeared at the BAFTAs over the weekend, and she got the internet talking about her opening number paying tribute to several female nominees. A BAFTAs producer has called the criticism the Oscar winner received “incredibly unfair.”
Ariana DeBose Was Criticized for Her BAFTAs Performance
After host Richard E. Grant’s opening monologue during Sunday’s awards ceremony, DeBose took the stage to perform “Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves” and “We Are Family,” along with a rap shouting out several female nominees.
“Angela Bassett did the thing, Viola Davis my ‘Woman King,’ Blanchett Cate you’re a genius, Jamie Lee you are all of us,” DeBose said as she danced around the theater. The video made the rounds on social media, with many users criticizing the performance. DeBose has since deactivated her Twitter account.
One Twitter user wrote, “Ariana DeBose sounds possessed or something. The cringe lyrics, silly choreo, deep breaths & out of tune moments are sending me!” Another wrote, “I mean… I love Ariana DeBose, but this was awkward and a bit painful. There’s no denying that.”
BAFTAs Producer Defends DeBose
BAFTAs producer Nick Bullen spoke out about the backlash DeBose received, telling Variety that it’s “incredibly unfair.” He added, “I think a lot of people don’t like change, and there’s a view that the BAFTAs have to be this slightly stiff, traditional British, middle-England messaging.”
Bullen contrasted this with American award shows, which he said have “much more razzmatazz.” He said of the in-person reaction to DeBose’s number, “Everybody I’ve spoken to who was in the room absolutely loved it. She’s a huge star, she was amazing. The songs she was singing are very familiar songs, the room was clapping, and people were sort of dancing to the music.”
The producer added that DeBose’s rap honoring female nominees “was because it’s been a great year for women in film, and we wanted to celebrate that.” He explained that DeBose put the number together in just a few weeks with a musical director and choreographer.
As Bullen said of Sunday’s show, “We wanted to get the message out there that this is a show for everybody. And I think some people don’t like that change, but you know what? You need to get with it because changes are coming.”