Ariana DeBose let “instinct” lead her performance as Anita in ‘West Side Story’.

Ariana DeBose let her intuition guide her performance as Anita

Ariana DeBose let her intuition guide her performance as Anita

The Golden Globe winner felt an immediate connection to the character as soon as she read the script and she found it very helpful to construct a lengthy backstory for her alter ego.

After being unveiled as one of the EE BAFTA Rising Star Award nominees, the 30-year-old actress exclusively told BANG Showbiz: “When I first read Tony Kushner’s adapted screenplay, the character just sort of jumped on my chest. I could feel her and I instinctively just kind of knew what she would do or what I thought and therefore, you know, we created copious amount of backstory that were helpful for me, but for me and the character I was portraying, she’s herself is very institutional and in and of the moments she’s living, so to a point backstory, is not as usual as sheer instinct.”

Rita Moreno, one of Ariana’s co-stars in the Steven Spielberg remake won an Oscar for the same role in the original 1961 movie, and while she was a valuable source of support in encouraging the 31-year-old star to add her "unique" twist to the role, there were other areas in which she couldn't help.

Ariana explained: “We had a lunch when we first met and she just encouraged me to infuse it with everything that makes me special and unique. And that was the extent of that. We never discussed character because I also knew that I needed to stand on my own two feet.

"And that I could do that was to infuse my own lived identity as an Afro-Latina into the character that is something that Rita can’t speak to because she’s not Afro-Latina.”

Public voting for the EE BAFTA Rising Star Award is now open at and the winner will be announced at the EE British Academy Film Awards on 13 March 2022.

Ariana is nominated alongside Lashana Lynch, Millicent Simmonds, Harris Dickinson and Kodi Smit-McPhee.