Ariana DeBose did not like the Critics Choice joke about her

Ariana DeBose is a Broadway theater kid success story. She came up in musical theater, landing supporting roles in the original casts of Hamilton and Summer: The Donna Summer Musical (for which she earned a Tony nomination in 2018). Landing the role of Anita in Steven Spielberg’s 2021 remake of West Side Story was a golden opportunity to transfer from stage to screen, and it feels like Ariana is very aware of that. Since winning Best Supporting Actress in 2022 for WSS, Ariana has maintained her visibility. She routinely hosts the Tony Awards, she’s often asked to perform at the Kennedy Center Honors (most recently closing the show with disco-tacular singing and dancing), and she starred in her own Disney movie, Wish, last fall. She’s striking while the iron is hot, and I don’t blame her for it given how dismissive the industry can be for women in general, let alone for a Black, Latina, Queer woman. Plus, she undeniably has the goods. Which is why an attempt at a joke at the Critics Choice Awards didn’t sit well with Ariana, nor the internet:

As awards season continues, so do the controversial jokes.

At last night’s Critics Choice Awards, Ariana DeBose was left visibly unimpressed after being listed among a group of actors who apparently “think that they’re singers.”

While handing out the award for Best Original Song, presenters Bella Ramsey and Anthony Ramos highlighted all the nominated artists, naming Billie Eilish, Lenny Kravitz, and Dua Lipa as “some of the most famous voices in the music industry.”

Bella then read a subsequent joke that poked fun at “actors who also think that they’re singers,” listing off Ryan Gosling, Jack Black, and Ariana, who were nominated in the category, too.

In that moment, the cameras cut to show Ariana sitting in the audience, looking understandably confused by the mention before awkwardly laughing it off.

If you’re familiar with Ariana’s work, you’ll know she’s a widely acclaimed Broadway star, having performed in shows such as Bring It On, Motown: The Musical, Pippin, and even Hamilton, where she literally appeared alongside Anthony.

In 2018, she earned a Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for her role in Summer: The Donna Summer Musical.

And on top of all that, it was only two years ago that she won an Oscar for her performance in Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story, in which — you guessed it — she sings. A lot.

So, with all this in mind, people were left pretty shocked by the implication that Ariana isn’t a real singer, prompting fans to share their disappointment on X.

“The disrespect to Academy Award winner, Tony nominee, Broadway star, Ariana DeBose is WILD,” one fan wrote, adding that “the look on her face really said it all.”

“This is so unfunny…like, Ariana DeBose is one of the few triple threats in the industry,” wrote another user who suggested that Bella could have “turned this joke down.”

Notably, others called out the award show’s writers, demanding to know who gave this joke the go-ahead in the first place.

“Ariana DeBose, Oscar award winning, Tony nominated, OG cast member of Hamilton on BROADWAY…’THINKS she’s a singer’?!? Who wrote this bit?! I want names,” someone else said in response to the clip.

And now, Ariana has responded to the controversy by confirming that she definitely wasn’t a fan of the joke.

Taking to her Instagram story soon after the ceremony ended, Ariana wrote: “No I didn’t find it funny. Lol.”

Neither Bella nor Anthony have addressed the backlash.

[From BuzzFeed News]

I’m sorry Bella Ramsey is getting caught in this mess. Yes, they technically could have said no to the writers, but Bella is young and relatively new on the scene, so I think it’s appropriate to give them a pass. Anthony Ramos, on the other hand… maybe not. The “joke” just isn’t funny. Even if we suspend belief and pretend for a minute that it was funny, it still doesn’t work when referring to these three actors in particular. Ariana is the most egregious example, since she has the strongest singing background. But even Ryan Gosling has La La Land on his resume, and Jack Black has been in his band Tenacious D since 1994. They’ve all sung for their supper before, and to great acclaim — we’re not talking Pierce Brosnan in Mamma Mia, here. Ariana had every right to sport that supremely miffed expression. She knows her worth. But I’m sure she’ll shake it off and move on. If she can survive having done the thing, she can survive this.

photos credit:

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

31 Responses to “Ariana DeBose did not like the Critics Choice joke about her”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. theothermadeline says:

    Particularly baffling that Anthony Ramos didn’t push back at all given that he was HER CASTMATE IN HAMILTON – like what????

    • Ameerah M says:

      Not baffling at all – Anthony Ramos is trash.

      • MsDarcy says:

        How he treated Jasmine Cephas-Jones was awful. I lost all respect for him after that. But still… even if she is BFFs with Jasmine or took her side, to publicly disrespect your former costar from your biggest critical success to date is unforgiveable.

    • VilleRose says:

      I made the same comment below. I don’t know much about Anthony Ramos or his reputation beyond seeing him in the movie version of In the Heights. But yeah, not a good look to have a that kind of joke aimed at a former costar when they both have the same career origins in musical theater.

    • Arizona says:

      I guess the only thing I can say is that she played the bullet, which is primarily a dance role instead of singing, but it’s still completely bizarre. everyone knows she can sing!

      • Kelly says:

        I mean, she had a featured dancing role as the bullet but as a member of the ensemble, she sang in Hamilton as well. And getting a role on Broadway, any kind of role, is hugely competitive. The joke was dumb even if she hadn’t won an Oscar for WSS or done Wish just a few months ago.

        ETA she’s also in Schmiagadoon and Schmicago which is a hilarious send up to famous Broadway shows.

    • Kate says:

      Yeah, really, WHAT. Also Jack Black has been in a band since the early 1990s so really the only one who fits the bill is Ryan Gosling. Not a great joke.

      • Mario says:

        Not really, though, as Ryan was known as a singer and dancer long before he was an actor. As a child, he and his sister sang at weddings and performed with their uncle’s band.

        At age 13, he began his professional career, as one of the cast members of a very high-profile musical variety show (alongside Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake, J.C. Chasez, et. al.) And I remember his band releasing a CD and touring in the 2008-2010 timeframe. That’s before starring in an Oscar-winning musical and having a streaming hit last year.

        I think the joke was just in poor taste and really, really badly researched. Every one of those folks has been a professional singer, literally paid to sing, and will continue to be.

      • Kate says:

        @Mario thanks for the background! So yeah, really bad joke all around then. I saw La La Land and don’t remember him singing at all in that but then again I found that movie very forgettable.

      • North of Boston says:

        “High profile musical variety show”

        The Mickey Mouse Club on Disney?
        With Britney Spears? And Keri Russell?

  2. Nicole says:

    I wonder if Ariana is friends with Jasmine Cephas-Jones or sided with her in the break up and that’s why Anthony Ramos didn’t say anything in that joke, because they were all in Hamilton together.

    • Ameerah M says:

      Most of the cast sided with Jasmine so I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s why he felt okay doing it. That and also he’s just an a$$hole.

  3. equality says:

    If you are being nominated for an award for singing, wouldn’t that make you a singer? The “joke” is stupid.

    • Nicky says:

      Exactly this. There are countless examples of actors who like to pretend to be able to sing when they are in fact terrible. The above listed Pierce Brosnan in Mama Mia is a perfect example. But he never would have been nominated for an award for that very reason. If they let someone that terrible be nominated that would say more about how terrible their award is, not how bad that particular actor can sing. All three of the actors they listed were singers before they were actors. It’s ridiculous.

  4. BeanieBean says:

    It was a pretty snotty ‘joke’.

  5. VilleRose says:

    It’s especially egregious when you consider Anthony Ramos was also in the OG cast of Hamilton with Ariana Debose. He’s not the one who read the joke (I would like to think he would have refused??) but interesting he didn’t push back on that joke being said. I have no idea if Anthony and Ariana are friends or friendly but it just seems weird for him to be included as part of that joke when his background is also in musical theater and he is also very much a “real singer.” Whoever came up with the joke should reevaluate their life choices if they’re a comedy writer.

  6. Lady Esther says:

    I don’t know why but it’s apparently open season on jokes against women all this awards season, where “jokes” are passive-aggressive hostility or even straight up hostility (demeaning, making fun of women’s bodies, etc.) I know women are supposed to take this as evidence of “progress” since men are apparently so threatened that they feel the need to take women down, but it’s not funny at all.

    We’re right back to Seth MacFarlane singing “We Saw Your Boobs” at the Oscars. The OSCARS. Can you imagine “We Saw Your Butt (Still Waiting to See Your Penis)” sung by a rich and talented woman against all the men in the room who did nudity?

    Imagine the meltdown if an Oscar-winning, Tony-nominated actor had the same joke lobbed at him in a room full of his industry colleagues and peers? Oh, that’s right, it would NEVER happen. Christopher Nolan can’t even handle a joke from a freaking Peloton trainer about a movie he made years ago. Robert Downey Jr with all of his mountains of cash and acclaim can’t get through an awards speech without singling out criticism of him from 30 years ago as a “joke.” Sigh. Men, please do better!

    • MaryContrary says:

      It was also making fun of Ryan Gosling and Jack Black-not just her. It was just such a stupid, unfunny thing to say. She’s a fricking Broadway musical star-of course she sings. WTAF.

      • Lady Esther says:

        I’m sure Jack Black, who is actually a pretty damn good singer, was at home mid-popcorn to mouth going “I’d like to be excluded from this narrative.” And Ryan Gosling will have the last laugh because if he doesn’t get to do a big song and dance number at the Oscars for “I’m Just Ken” I will riot

      • Ameerah M says:

        Except Jack Black has been in a popular band since the late 90s (Tenacious D has sold millions of albums). Ryan Gosling was a Disney kid who had a band for years as well. So it didn’t even apply to any of them. It was an excuse to make fun of the one woman included in the “joke”.

      • Lady Esther says:

        @Ameerah M ikr? Now, if they had taken on Russell Crowe, or Johnny Depp, both of whom are probably the best-known actors who fancy themselves singers (see also Bruce Willis, Eddie Murphy…the list goes on)…but it would never, ever happen. Punching down on a young woman, though? Feel free!

  7. Harper says:

    I too want the name of whoever wrote that. Why do they get to hide? It was completely uncalled for and CCA owes Ariana an apology.

  8. Anonymous says:

    She’s a sweetheart. I’m so happy for her!

  9. Becks1 says:

    It was a stupid joke and it was just incorrect for all the reasons stated in this post. No wonder she didn’t laugh.

  10. Bumblebee says:

    Putting down someone’s hard work and talent, to make their ‘competition’ look good? Never funny. What is with the award show writers this season? Did the producers only hire less experienced writers to save money? Or being petty because of the strike?

  11. Chaine says:

    I’m sure I’m the billionth person to ask this, but why are these award shows set up as mean roasts of the people they are supposedly honoring? It seems really cruel to bring you in as supposedly being recognized for your craft or supporting peers for being recognized, and then try to shoot you down. Didn’t anyone learn anything from the Cris Rock fiasco?

  12. Mel says:

    I saw Arianna Debose in concert last year at Lincoln Ctr. She’s a triple threat in every sense of the word. My only quibble with her is that she has to push back when they give her those stupid “disco” adjacent medleys. She deserves and can do way better than that.

  13. Sass says:

    People always say comedy requires intelligence so no wonder this joke fell flat. It’s lazy and untrue. The simplest research into the joke’s subjects would have shown the writers that. Side note I adore Ariana and think she is the Ariana we need.

  14. Feebee says:

    Imagine making that joke in reverse. Telling the likes of Cher and Jennifer Hudson they’re singers who think they can act. I don’t know if I’ve got my award shows mixed up but on one red carpet at least there was a lot of gushing to Billie Eilish and Dua Lipa about their acting gigs.

    Why do these writers continue to ignore the memos being sent about their shitty jokes?