BAFTA Producer Defends Ariana DeBose Amid Criticism Over Opening Number

After Ariana DeBose's opening musical number from the 2023 BAFTA Awards went viral, one of the show's producers, Nick Bullen, is speaking out against the criticism the actress faced on social media.

By Kisha Forde Feb 21, 2023 3:57 PMTags
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Ariana DeBose is the one who truly did the thing, according to a producer of the 2023 BAFTA Film Awards.
In case you were MIA from social media over the weekend, the West Side Story actress opened the Feb. 19 award show with a musical number that featured a rap shouting out the female nominees sitting in the room, including Cate Blanchett, Angela Bassett, Jamie Lee Curtis and Viola Davis. Suffice to say, the rap quickly went viral on social media. 

"Angela Bassett did the thing, Viola Davis, my Woman King," she rapped in part. "Blanchett Cate you're a genius, Jamie Lee you are all of us."

Now, one of the show's producers is slamming the criticism the 32-year-old has since received.

"I think it's incredibly unfair, to be frank," BAFTA producer Nick Bullen told Variety. "I absolutely loved it. Everybody I've spoken to who was in the room absolutely loved it. She's a huge star, she was amazing."

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Noting the singles Ariana performed right before launching into her rap such as "Sisters Are Doin' It for Themselves" and "We Are Family," Nick added, "The songs she was singing are very familiar songs, the room was clapping, and people were sort of dancing to the music. That rap section in the middle, mentioning the women in the room, was because it's been a great year for women in film, and we wanted to celebrate that."

As he explained, the Oscar winner put a great deal of thought into her musical dedication.

"She only had a few weeks to put this whole thing together," he continued. "She worked with a great musical director and choreographer. So, it was a real team effort. She had an amazing team around her, and she and her team put the whole piece together."

As for the critics who have spoken out about her shoutout? Nick sums up the negative reaction to people simply not liking "change."

"There's a view that the BAFTAs have to be this slightly stiff, traditional British, middle-England messaging," he noted. "But American awards shows have much more razzmatazz, much more showbiz and perhaps a broader range of people being involved. We felt we're not about revolution, we're about evolution."

Kate Green/BAFTA/Getty Images for BAFTA

After the clip of her rap made its way to Twitter, quite a few users summed up the moment as "cringe." However, the actress also had others chime in to defend her, with one person writing that she "will have stans for LIFE after serving this level of camp to us on a platter."

And though Ariana seems to have deleted her Twitter account altogether in the wake of her now-viral clip, she is still seemingly taking the moment in stride.

Underneath an Instagram collage of memes posted featuring her "Angela Bassett did the thing" bit posted Feb. 20, Ariana wrote, "Honestly I love this."

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