Ariana DeBose performed a rap about women in Hollywood during her opening number at this year’s BAFTA Awards, which caused a lot of backlash on social media. The rap was only meant to be part of her performance, but it didn’t take long to become viral.
The opening number at the 2023 BAFTA Film Awards was delivered by actress and singer Ariana DeBose (Hamilton, Westworld, West Side Story). In honor of this year’s female nominees across several categories, she chose a musical number that included an original rap about each woman. The song went viral on Twitter but was also met with much criticism.
The Purpose of Ariana DeBose Rap
A producer for the event says that the rap was part of a “conscious effort to move away from this slightly stiff, traditional British, middle-England messaging” and reach a younger audience on social media.
In an interview with Variety, Bullen said the rap was meant to “celebrate” this year’s nominees and that DeBose worked with a choreographer and musical director to put it together. He added that DeBose is a “great actress” who only had a few weeks to assemble it.
DeBose is a three-time Oscar winner, and her many Broadway credits include Hamilton, Pippin, A Bronx Musical, Motown, and Bring It On. She also voiced a role in a new Disney animated movie musical, set to release later this year.
While the rap portion of her performance was criticized, DeBose’s high-energy performance received praise from viewers on social media. It was so popular that rap has gone on to be shared over five million times online.
Criticisms vs Social Media
Some actors, including Michelle Yeoh and Jamie Lee Curtis, also well-received the rap. But others, like Dolly De Leon, Kerry Condon, Cate Blanchett, and Viola Davis, weren’t quite so enamored with it.
Some viewers also pointed to the performance’s gormlessness and the fact that it had an unofficial name, Angela Bassett Did the Thing, a snatch of the song “Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves” by We Are Family.
Despite the snatch, the song has since gone on to be shared over 1 million times on social media. And it’s only getting more popular.
As of Monday, the rap has racked up over 1.5 million views on Twitter alone. The performance has also prompted reactions on TikTok, where users have expressed their distaste for it.
One person tweeted that the rap was “awkward.” Another wrote that they could “see why it’s causing so much controversy” and urged people to “just calm down.”
But the most compelling reaction was a video by a Twitter user named @theatreislife, who said she was “out of breath and confused” by the performance. The user also noted that she “loves Ariana DeBose” and was surprised by the reaction to her performance.
According to the producer, the backlash came from people who “don’t like change.” Still, it was a conscious effort to move away from this slightly stiff, traditional British, middle-England messaging and reach a younger audience on social media.