Ariana DeBose Tonys
Ariana DeBose Tonys

Ariana DeBose on Hosting the Tony Awards, Favorite Shows, & Her Broadway Return

Fresh off her 2022 Oscar-winning performance as Anita in West Side Story, Broadway veteran Ariana DeBose returns to the stage this weekend for one night only to host the 75th annual Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall on Sunday night. Broadway Direct caught up with DeBose on break from rehearsal to chat with her about Broadway’s biggest night.

Ariana DeBose poses backstage with her Oscar for Actress in a Supporting Role earlier this year. Photo by Michael Baker / A.M.P.A.S.

You’re hosting the Tonys this year! Dream moment for you?

I’m excited, thrilled…I’m honored and I’m terrified also. So let that be said on record: if you’re not nervous, you’re not ready.

It’s 75 years of the Tonys this year, how are you going to celebrate 75 years of the best of Broadway?

That’s a good question, I hadn’t thought about it in that context if I’m being truly honest. There are many schools of thought — it’s our first time back at Radio City coming out of what has been an extremely challenging time. So there are clear victories to be celebrated within that. But yes, we’re celebrating 75 years of Broadway excellence. We’ve got some really fun things in store. And I do think we’ll celebrate where we’ve come from to celebrate where we’re going.

Favorite show of the season?

I’ve seen a great many things, because as host that’s my responsibility. I’m one of those weird theater lovers — I love everything. I was moved by A Strange Loop, it’s a perspective we don’t always see on a Broadway stage, especially as someone who is Black and queer. I also loved the entertainment value of MJ, the Michael Jackson musical. I thought it was a beautiful show— and I was inspired by all of those dancers, all of those bodies, that ensemble is a gift to Christopher Wheeldon’s vision.

Ariana DeBose in Summer: The Donna Summer Musical, for which her performance recieved a Tony Award nomination. Photo by Matthew Murphy.
Ariana DeBose in Summer: The Donna Summer Musical, for which her performance received a Tony Award nomination. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

When are you coming back to Broadway?

I’m going to wait for the perfect thing. I can’t stay away for too long — I’m already itching to get back.

DeBose will host The 75th Annual Tony Awards, airing live coast-to-coast (8–11 p.m. LIVE EST/5–8 p.m. PST) on the CBS Television Network, and streaming live and on demand on Paramount+. Find out how to watch the ceremony here and check here for all of Broadway Direct’s exciting Tonys coverage!