A producer for the British Academy of Film and Television Arts Awards spoke out against criticism of Ariana DeBose following her opening act at the 2023 ceremony went viral. Nick Bullen, CEO of British production company Spun Gold, explained to Variety his opinion that the commentary “is incredibly unfair, to be frank.”
“We wanted to open the show with some energy, some fun, and also lay out straight away that this was hopefully going to feel like a different night, but with a familiarity as well, and what Ariana did was exactly that,” Bullen detailed to the outlet.
“I think a lot of people don’t like change, and there’s a view that the BAFTAs have to be this slightly stiff, traditional British, middle-England messaging. 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.”
The opening act featured the Westside Story star delivering a choreographed number wearing a bright pink pantsuit, and interacting with her peers. Singing “Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves” by Eurythmics featuring Aretha Franklin, she transitioned into an original rap highlighting the women movie stars in the audience.
“Angela Bassett did the thing, Viola Davis my Woman King, Blanchett Cate you’re a genius, Jamie Lee you are all of us,” she rhymed as the camera panned to show those mentioned clapping along.
“She only had a few weeks to put this whole thing together. 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,” detailed Bullen.
Since the performance went viral, the Oscar-winning actress has deleted her Twitter account with no official response to the backlash.
DeBose did, however, comment on a meme shared by Evan Ross Katz on Instagram writing “honestly I love this” on the comical post.