Double Duty: Bring It On and Motown's Ariana DeBose Talks About Performing Twice at Her First Tonys

By Michael Gioia
04 Jun 2013

DeBose in Motown.
Photo by Joan Marcus
The "So You Think You Can Dance" alum trained at CC & Co. Dance Complex in Raleigh before attending Western Carolina University, where she met 2013 Pippin Tony nominee and teacher Terrence Mann, WCU's Carolyn Plemmons Phillips and Ben R. Phillips Distinguished Professor in Musical Theatre.

"Terrence Mann is nominated," continued DeBose, who admitted that — before she made her debut with Bring It On — she left WCU to "pound the pavement" and hit the non-Equity audition lines. "He has become a great mentor in my life. To be there and perform at the same Tonys where he is nominated and acknowledged for his work, I'm so proud of that."

Newcomer DeBose will not only perform with the Tony-nominated Bring It On, but will also sing with her fellow Supremes from Motown (although the production was not Tony-nominated for Best Musical), in which she plays Mary Wilson and understudies the role of Diana Ross, performed nightly by 2013 Tony nominee Valisia LeKae.

"It is overwhelming," confessed DeBose, who was brought in by the Motown creative team specifically for the track she created. "I mean, I honestly try not to think about it! But then you can't not think about it because it's so cool. I don't know many people who have had the experience I've had because everybody's path is different, but it's really just mind-boggling because I started out as just a dancer who did not sing… And then I ended up here so fast, and now I just [think], 'All I ever wanted, once I decided I wanted to work in theatre, was to be on Broadway, and I've now got that and then some.'"

"To the outside world and to a wide-eyed girl from Raleigh, North Carolina, the Tonys are the epitome of Broadway," added DeBose with a smile. "You feel like somebody when you get to go. It's really a dream come true, and I feel like Cinderella."

( staff writer Michael Gioia's work appears in the news, feature and video sections of Follow him on Twitter at @PlaybillMichael.)

DeBose documented her Broadway debut with Playbill Video. Watch it here: