Ariana DeBose spoke with Disney CEO about the Don’t Say Gay bill

Ariana DeBose won best supporting actress at the Oscars Sunday. She was the first openly queer woman of color to do so, and she gave a lovely speech celebrating her win and the moment. Given she won for a film with ties to Disney, naturally Ariana was asked about Disney’s response regarding the Don’t Say Gay bill in Florida. Her answer was surprising. Not because Ariana condemned the bill, but because she taken her fight straight to the top. Ariana said she’d spoke to Disney CEO Bob Chapek directly and that they’re “gonna do the work” to get HB 1557 repealed. Atta girl, Ariana.

Ariana DeBose made history on Sunday night by becoming the first openly queer woman of color to win an acting Oscar for her work as Anita in Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story.” The musical was distributed by 20th Century Studios, which is owned by The Walt Disney Company.

On the Academy Awards red carpet before the ceremony, I talked with DeBose about Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill. DeBose says she has reached out to Disney CEO Bob Chapek to talk about the studio’s controversial reaction to the legislation.

“Bob and I, we’re gonna do the work,” DeBose said. “I have [spoken to Chapek]. I’m a very hands-on type of person. And when I see something, I say something. And while I may not always put it on the internet, I do that. I reached out. And I will continue to reach out and Bob knows that.”

[From Variety via Just Jared]

Kudos to Ariana for both going to Chapek on this and for taking that information public. Comments like this are going to carry more weight than Disney’s statement about promising to fight the bill after that fact. They’ve been trying to convince everyone that they’ve been working behind the scenes on this thing, and no one’s really been buying it. Especially since Ron DeSantis keeps throwing them under the bus. But Ariana’s vouching for the fact that at least one call was taken about the matter. And if she believes the company will stand by its word then I believe it too. She’s long since fulfilled her obligation to play nice to Disney, she didn’t need to here. I love that Ariana assured us she’s not letting this go, that Chapek knows if he doesn’t make good on this, she’s coming for him. This is going to be a hard fight and it’ll need a ton of support. This one isn’t going to be won on Twitter, folks. I hope you have your marching boots on.

And just a side note for those who brought it up: I am fully aware of the Kindergarten through 3rd specification in HB 1557. I don’t care. That justifies nothing and therefore I see no reason to include in my write up. The bill is discriminatory, dangerous, and odious and that is what I will focus on when I speak about it.

Photo credit: InStar Images and Avalon Red

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18 Responses to “Ariana DeBose spoke with Disney CEO about the Don’t Say Gay bill”

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  1. blinkb says:

    Love her. And Disney are so keen to be seen as inclusive, that I wouldn’t be surprised if Chapek reached out to her, or was particularly accommodating in responding to her. Saying that, this could have just been a chat at one of the many awards events this season. Who knows! The main thing is this is out there, and Disney have to do more

  2. Trina says:

    Love her, love the red suit, love all of this.

  3. Sam the Pink says:

    I mean, good for her for speaking on an issue that directly impacts her and her community – I’m all for that. But let’s not forget that Disney is the same company that filmed a movie in a region where literal genocide is happening and then thanked the government doing it. They have never been an ethical company and never will be. They are not deserving of your time or money.

  4. Crowhood says:

    In a world where nobody will take even the most basic and obvious stance, this website ALWAYS stands up. Ten years a fan, ladies. Bravo.

  5. Lightpurple says:

    The law’s parameters aren’t limited to K-3, although it’s proponents claim that. Only one paragraph on page 3. applies to K-3. The rest of the seven pages are K-12. The law is vague, arbitrary, and capricious – things that laws aren’t supposed to be – and dangerous.

    • Jess says:

      Amen, Lightpurple!

      • Lightpurple says:

        Thanks. If a law’s proponents only want you to read one paragraph out of seven pages, be very wary.

        And that thing is going to bankrupt school districts.

      • liz says:

        Bankrupting school districts and frightening teachers into silence is much of the purpose of this law. This faction of the GOP (which is taking over the entire GOP) has long despised public education. Completely breaking that system and forcing taxpayers to fund religious education via vouchers is part of their ideology. Promoting hatred of already marginalized people is in some ways just a bonus.

        By the way, it’s Trans Day of Visibility today. Protect Trans Kids (and Adults).

    • whatever says:

      Thank you for pointing this out. I was going to, but you beat me to it, and did a better job explaining it than I would have. All teachers, K-12, can be sued for teaching material that is not “age-appropriate,” but what qualifies as age-appropriate is never defined. It’s maddening.

      • LightPurple says:

        Not only is “age appropriate” never defined, page 5, #7 provides that any random parent can define it and petition the school demanding people be disciplined after the fact. “Third party” in the K-3 portion does include other kids in the class so random parent can get the teacher disciplined for allowing 5 year old Heather to talk about her two mommies in class. Amendments to protect Heather and her teacher were proposed but struck down.

    • Otaku fairy says:

      This. It’s so dangerous.

    • Tiffany:) says:

      Thank you for pointing that out! I didn’t know, and it’s very deceptive that they are promoting it as only apply to K-3.

  6. It’sJustBlanche says:

    I work with Disney as one of my main clients and they took very good care of us during the pandemic (including paying people who they literally did not have to pay) so I am biased, but Disney is one the most gay friendly companies to work for in the US so their silence initially on the bill was really disheartening. Chapek is an idiot—he’ll be gone in a year probably—but I’m glad to see they are stepping up, even if it’s a bit late.

    • BothSidesNow says:

      They may have been great to you and your employees but Disney as a whole has dug themselves far too deep into the despicable pool. No one should be donating to the GOP given what they are doing to minorities, the LBGTQ+ communities, voting rights that are being destroyed, environmental issues, women’s reproductive rights, as well as the blatant disenfranchisement of ordinary citizens.

      Disney will need an excavator to dig them out of this mess that has been building up for years!!

  7. Tiffany:) says:

    Honk 🙂

  8. Truthiness says:

    I hope Ariana has a long and fruitful career. Way to go!