NEW YORK — Academy Award-winning actress Ariana DeBose took center stage Sunday night as host of the Tony Awards ceremony, and she shined in the spotlight.
CBS2’s Kristine Johnson sat down with DeBose on Wednesday morning for an extended interview.
It has been a whirlwind year for DeBose.
In March, she took home a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for “West Side Story,” and on Sunday, she hosted the 75th annual Tony Awards on CBS2, live from Radio City Music Hall.
“I don’t really feel pressure, but I feel a tremendous sense of responsibility to really share with the audiences at home who are watching on CBS the love that I feel for these people,” DeBose said.
She is the definition of a triple threat as a super-talented dancer, singer, and actress.
“I heard you talk about rehearsing your Oscar speech when you were a child … Do you believe in manifestation?” Johnson asked.
“Absolutely. I 100% believe in the power of manifestation, and visualization, for that matter,” DeBose said. “The entertainment industry in particular is one that really likes the word ‘no.’ You know, you have to have a real strong sense of self to continue to persevere … If there’s one thing I understand it’s like, you just need one good ‘yes.’ Mine happened to come from someone named Steven Spielberg. And I will be forever grateful. I mean, that’s a really big ‘yes.'”
DeBose is also on this year’s Time 100 list of most influential people.
“How does it feel to be a part of that, of that curve, of that change?” Johnson asked.
“I think about influence and legacy and meaningful change all the time,” DeBose said. “I think art is very important because it requires people to think … Have they been short-sighted? Is there something new that they can open their minds to? There are many beautiful pieces of work on Broadway right now that do just that, in addition to being entertaining.”
She’s also proud to shine a light on the LGBTQ community.
“You speak confidently and openly and so positively about being a woman of color and being queer … Given it’s Pride Month, your message to those that have haven’t reached that point in their lives?” Johnson asked.
“I think everyone’s journey with identity and sexuality, it’s your own and your timing is your own, and it’s beautiful,” DeBose said. “But I can tell you this, when you’re ready to step into the fullness of your own authenticity, there are people waiting with open arms to love you. And don’t forget that.”
She credits her success to her years working in theater.
“Does that comfort level that you feel going into this, is that attributed to the fact that this is where you started? And it feels like you’re coming home?” Johnson asked.
“I think so,” DeBose said. “I learned everything I know about performing live and welcoming people in a space by working on Broadway.”
“Do you prepare to host the Tonys the same way that you prepare for a role?” Johnson asked.
“When I’m hosting, I’m talking to someone as a human, or I’m talking to my audience as just the human that is Ariana DeBose. So, yes, I’m a little heightened, because I want you to stay interested. But I really like showing people how I really feel,” DeBose said.
The versatile actress made her Broadway debut in “Bring It On: The Musical,” was an original ensemble member in “Hamilton,” and was Tony nominated for “Summer: The Donna Summer Musical.”
“Broadway isn’t just its headliners. It’s everyone behind the scenes,” DeBose said. “Because of my firsthand experience, what I can tell you is there’s not a way in the world that I would let this evening go by without shining light on these vital members of our community. So, while I’m not going to tell you what we’re going to be doing, I make you this promise: They will be seen and they will be heard, and they will be celebrated.”
“Will we see you on stage again?” Johnson asked.
“You will. I don’t know when, but you will. Don’t be surprised if I’m just like, Ariana DeBose is going to play the Carlyle, so keep your eyes open, guys,” DeBose said.
In the meantime, however, DeBose says she plans to take the month of August off.