Ariana DeBose’s Terrible Rap Stole the 2023 BAFTAs

You can hate thank Lin Manuel Miranda for making actors think they need to rap to get their points across. The latest victim? Hamilton alum Ariana DeBose, who opened the 2023 BAFTA Awards with a clumsy musical salute to the biggest women in film.

“All the ladies in the room/ Supporting and leading/ All here, I presume,” DeBose begins, immediately out of breath. DeBose shouts out the likes of a horrified Hong Chau and Emma Thompson before the camera cuts to the singing actress herself, who delivers the hollow lines: “Angela Bassett did the thing/ Viola Davis, my Woman King/ Blanchett, Cate, you’re a genius/ Jamie Lee, you are all of us.”

What, exactly, did Bassett do? How do we laymen relate to Curtis? The answers to these questions don’t matter. What matters is that DeBose posed them in front of a room full of Hollywood hostages, bastardizing a genre created by working class brown and Black Americans only to turn into a Twitter cringe meme.

Despite its less-than-stellar landing, BAFTAs producer Nick Bullen defended DeBose’s rap in a statement to Variety, explaining that the awards show hoped a musical number would separate this year’s BAFTAs from its stuffy reputation.

“We wanted to open the show with some energy, some fun, and also lay out straight away that this was hopefully going to feel like a different night, but with a familiarity as well, and what Ariana did was exactly that,” Bullen said. “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. But American awards shows have much more razzmatazz, much more showbiz, and perhaps a broader range of people being involved. We felt we’re not about revolution, we’re about evolution.”

Watch DeBose’s rap below, and learn more (better) things about the rising star — like how she went from So You Think You Can Dance to Spielberg’s West Side Story — here.


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