Ariana DeBose Speaks out for the First Time Since Viral BAFTAs Rap Performance

The actress also reacted to Lizzo's parody at one of her recent concerts.

Ariana DeBose is speaking out for the first time since her “Angela Bassett did the thing" rap performance at the 2023 BAFTA Awards went viral.

In a preview for an upcoming interview on BBC Radio 2's The Zoe Ball Breakfast Show posted Saturday on TikTok, the West Side Story star brushes away the criticism and instead chooses to focus on the love she's received. Ball's among DeBose's fans who loved the performance, saying "it was a woman, singing and dancing, being magnificent, celebrating women onstage."

"You know what, you might be one of the few [who loved the performance]," DeBose said. "I'll take it, because you're my people!"

DeBose, who opened the 2023 BAFTA Awards performing “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, shared a bit about how the performance came about.

"Honestly, it's not like I'm like, 'Hey BAFTA, let me in.' They actually called me, believe it or not," she said. "But that was the assignment. Like, 'Come celebrate women,' and I was like, 'Absolutely!' We did that and it was fun. Not gonna lie. I had a blast."

Among those who also enjoyed the performance was Elvis director Baz Luhrmann, DeBose revealed. 

@bbc “A woman celebrating women” 🧡 👏 Ariana DeBose talks for the first time about that iconic BAFTAs performance! #BBCRadio2 #BBCSounds #iPlayer ♬ original sound - BBC

"I spent the rest of the night cutting a rug with Emma Thompson. Like, it was fabulous. I had a great time," she said. "But like, Baz Luhrmann came and found me and he was like, ‘No, I think you’re great. That was fun.’ I had fun!”

She added, "And apparently gay Twitter seemed to like it. So that’s good. I’ll take it."

For whatever reason, online commentators attacked her opening number, leading DeBose to deactivate her Twitter account. One of the event's producers also was quick to rush to her defense, calling the backlash "incredibly unfair."

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."

When the memes started popping up all over social media, DeBose reacted graciously, commenting on a carousel of memes posted on Instagram with, "Honestly I love this."

Also on Saturday, DeBose took to Instagram and reposted Lizzo's parody of her viral performance, as well as Adele referencing the Angela Basset line during one of her recent concerts.

"The internet is wild y'all!" DeBose commented on her post. "Appreciate all the love."