Ariana DeBose on Hosting the Tony Awards for the Third Time and What Fans Can Expect This Year (Exclusive)

Ariana DeBose is gearing up to host Broadway's biggest night for the third year in a row and is teasing an 'ambitious' show.

Ariana DeBose is about to do her thing at the 2024 Tony Awards -- for the third time in a row. 

The Oscar winner is set to host the annual award ceremony for the third year on Sunday at New York's Lincoln Center. While she's no stranger to running the show at this point, the 33-year-old performer is also no stranger to the audience she's about to emcee.

That's because she's a Broadway star herself. The Hamilton alum got her professional start in theater more than a decade ago and has since earned her own Tony nomination for Best Featured Actress in a Musical as Disco Donna in 2018's Summer: The Donna Summer Musical. The Prom actress went on to breakout Hollywood stardom as Anita in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story, earning her first Oscar nomination and win. 

But on Sunday night, she'll be back in the company of her beloved theater comrades. 

"I love the community," she tells ET's Rachel Smith. "I got my start on Broadway. I worked... on Broadway for 10 years and it feels like home, so every year that I get the opportunity to come back, I'm really grateful."

This year, however, she's adding an extra credit to her résumé as a producer of the award show. 

"It feels different, but again, it’s not that different. I'm doing all the same things I used to do. I'm very hands-on anyways," she says. "But, you know, having a seat at the table, they're kinda forced to listen to me, but thankfully everyone at White Cherry [Entertainment] and I, we have a really great collaborative process."

Ariana DeBose performed in the opening number of the 2023 Tony Awards. - Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Tony Awards Production

After kicking off the show last year without a script amid the Writers Guild of America strike, there will still be an opening number this year -- co-choreographed by DeBose herself -- but expect a fresh look at the magic of theater. 

"I think this show is gonna really try and like elevate what the Tonys can be. We're trying some new things. It's an ambitious Broadway season," she points out, "so why not try and give them an ambitious show."

Notes DeBose, "We're not trying to duplicate or recycle any of the magic from last year, right? It was of a time -- I don't think I could do that again if I tried, so, you know, we're at Lincoln Center this year and it’s about taking the tools and the space that we're in and seeing what that can bring to the Tonys."

While DeBose is keeping most of the details to herself until showtime, she confirmed there will be "incredible" musical performances and a star-studded lineup of presenters -- including Jennifer Hudson, Taraji P. Henson, and Angelina Jolie -- all while she juggles hosting and four costume changes. 

Ultimately, of course, it's the shows and their nominated performers that are at the center of Broadway's biggest night. 

"There's literally something for everyone," she says of this year's Broadway season. "That's what I love so much is like we opened so many shows. I believe it was a total of 36 productions this season, and it's wild because Broadway is transforming itself, so if you've historically thought that Broadway may not be for you, I promise you, if you just give it a chance, there is a show for you. Come see Hell's Kitchen, come see The Outsiders, Illinoise, Mother Play, Appropriate, Enemy of the People -- there is literally the cerebral, the strictly entertaining, there is the heartwarming and the life-changing. We are ready for you. Come see us."

The 2024 Tony Awards, which will be hosted by Ariana DeBose, is airing live from the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts on Sunday, June 16, at 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET on CBS and Paramount+.