Online commentators attacked her opening number at the 2023 BAFTA Awards.
Ariana DeBose has deactivated her Twitter account after online commentators attacked her opening number at the 2023 BAFTA Awards. However, one of the event's producers was quick to come to the West Side Story star's defense, calling the backlash "incredibly unfair."
DeBose performed “Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves” and “We Are Family,” as well as an original rap where she shouted out the awards show's 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,” sang DeBose. The camera panned to the women as they were name-dropped.
In a statement to Variety after the award show, producer Nick Bullen said, "The songs she was singing are very familiar songs, the room was clapping, and people were sort of dancing to the music," he told the publication. "That rap section in the middle, mentioning the women in the room, was because it's been a great year for women in film, and we wanted to celebrate that."
Bullen says a lot of the criticism toward DeBose is because "a lot of people don't like change." He stressed that DeBose "worked with a great musical director and choreographer."
"There's a view that the BAFTAs have to be this slightly stiff, traditional British, middle-England messaging," Bullen explained, noting that, "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. Let's just evolve, let's just move forward with some gentle changes that start to lay out the stall of what this show should be and where we should be with it," Bullen said.
Aside from deactivating her Twitter account, DeBose has not publicly addressed the performance.