The most talked-about moment of the 2023 BAFTAs came early on in the night.
A clip of actress Ariana DeBose's opening performance is trending on Twitter for its rap verse, in which the 32-year-old West Side Story star name checks some of the leading ladies in attendance. "Dame Emma, I'm so fond," DeBose declared, as Emma Thompson smiled along, "Ana [de Armas], girl, you were great in Blonde. Danielle [Deadwyler', you broke my heart. Michelle [Yeoh], I've loved you from the start."
The video has since garnered over 1 million views on Twitter thanks to DeBose's theatrical pronunciation (particularly of Angela Bassett's name) coupled with humorous on-camera reactions from those mentioned — who also included Dolly De Leon, Kerry Condon, Cate Blanchett, Michelle Yeoh, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Viola Davis.
\u201cSisters are doing it for themselves! The incredible @ArianaDeBose opens the 2023 #EEBAFTAs with an iconic performance! \u2728\u201d— BAFTA (@BAFTA) 1676833996
While some outlets reported that the performance was "slammed," Twitter reactions were more mixed between second-hand cringe and bemused acknowledgment of its campiness. "Deeply obsessed," wrote one user, while another said, "This is so cringe omg." For what it's worth, the celebrities who were there seemed to be entertained, with Viola Davis and Jamie Lee Curtis bopping along to the tune.
DeBose is a critically-acclaimed actress whose professional accolades include a Golden Globe, British Academy Film Award, and an Academy Award — for which she made history as the first openly queer woman of color to win. In 2022, she was named one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people in the world.
See below for some of the reactions to DeBose's performance on Twitter.
\u201cariana debose you\u2019re an oscar winner you don\u2019t have to do this i promise \ud83d\ude2d\u201d— \ud835\udc82\ud835\udc93\ud835\udc82\ud835\udc8e (@\ud835\udc82\ud835\udc93\ud835\udc82\ud835\udc8e) 1676848962
\u201cI can\u2019t wait for Angela Bassett to win the Oscar so I can use this clip of Ariana Debose\u201d— AJ \ud83d\udd4a\ufe0f (@AJ \ud83d\udd4a\ufe0f) 1676888008
\u201cThe reaction shots in the Ariana Debose BAFTA performance are sending me\u201d— Nicol (@Nicol) 1676852256
\u201cMe swallowing the memory card containing Ariana DeBose's female BAFTA nominees verse\u201d— Aidan (@Aidan) 1676849136
Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP via Getty Images