"It's All Happening": Busy Bring It On and Motown Actress Ariana DeBose Blogs About Her First Tony Awards

News   "It's All Happening": Busy Bring It On and Motown Actress Ariana DeBose Blogs About Her First Tony Awards
Ariana DeBose, who made her Broadway debut this season in the Tony Award-nominated Best Musical Bring It On and can currently be seen in Motown, performed twice at her first Tony Awards on June 9. She documented the evening for Playbill.com.

Ariana DeBose
Ariana DeBose


What a night!

I am still reeling from last night's incredible celebration of the Broadway community! I am so inspired by what I've experienced over the past 24 hours…starting with dress rehearsal. (I have never seen so many people excited to be awake at 6:45 AM.)

What is it they say about working in television? "There's a lot of, 'Hurry up and wait'!" It's true, but it was great to have the time to take it all in. I stood in our holding area with the casts of The Lion King, Mamma Mia!, Cinderella and Pippin, and I have to say: Broadway has a great look right now. It's like a sparkly melting pot. So many styles of theatre are being featured on The Great White Way. Only here will you find circus people, cheerleaders, music moguls and showgirls hanging out in one place. (#earlymorningmusings.)

Tony Awards dress rehearsal led me straight to half-hour for Motown's matinee and then back to Radio City for the show. I have to say…I had the jitters all the way up until the downbeat of the opening number — which, by the way, was one of the best opening numbers I have ever seen (but maybe I'm a little biased, since it was written by Bring It On songwriters Lin-Manuel Miranda and Tom Kitt)! Neil Patrick Harris (NPH) is such a fearless host and fantastic showman. Hitting that passerelle (the walkway that extends into the audience) in the opening number with my fellow Bring It On principals was terrifying and exciting all at once, but there is nothing better than 120-something performers hitting the button of a number. (#fierce.) Looking out into the audience and seeing these faces I love and respect left me very misty.

I'm still mind-blown that I was standing on stage behind a curtain waiting to go on for Bring It On's performance as Judith Light made her acceptance speech! I was running on adrenaline and five cups of coffee, so trying to harness all that energy was nearly impossible, but listening to her speak with such love and genuine gratitude for everything around her was so heartening.

DeBose with Bring it On castmates

Performing "It's All Happening" (from Bring It On) after that speech felt serendipitous, in a way. I was so "in the moment" that I don't remember much of what actually happened, but I remember turning to the audience and seeing my mentors, Terrence Mann and Charlotte d'Amboise. I will keep the memory forever. I enjoyed every second of being on that stage with my incredible cast. That performance was the end of a chapter for our company. Two years of hard work led us to that moment, and I am so proud to have been part of the show. I have a feeling we'll go on to become Broadway's "Mickey Mouse Club." ("…15 years down the road, and where are they now?") So, after that… mad dash to the third floor to change into costume for the Motown performance: to the elevator, costume change, wig change, water, makeup touch up and back to the deck all in (maybe) ten minutes. It sounds like a long time, but in TV Land that was a rush. When I finally joined them, my Motown family greeted me with such support — they made this girl feel really special. Taking the stage with them was icing on the cake!

DeBose with Jerry Mitchell

I watched the rest of the telecast at the Bring It On viewing party and witnessed so many amazing moments… Thrilled for Diane Paulus and Pam MacKinnontwo female directors taking home statues in one night? That's what I'm talking about! And, let's hear it for all the beautiful ethnics up there being honored. It was inspiring to see Courtney B. Vance, Cicely Tyson, Patina Miller and Billy Porter up there. I'm just glad I had the privilege of being a part of the evening… and with two shows!

I then party-hopped in true Tony fashion, hitting Bring It On, Motown and Kinky Boots celebrations as well as the Tony Awards Party at the Café Carlyle. I spent the evening with so many dear friends and people I admire, including Bring It On producers Kristin Caskey and Mike Isaacson; Tom Kitt; Zachary Quinto; Jerry Mitchell; Motown love (and Tony nominee) Charl Brown, Mr. Berry Gordy and the Motown team; and so many more!

It was a magical night that I was so honored to be a part of… I was my own version of Cinderella. I didn't want the ball to end, but I am so glad it happened, and I will never forget it. Hopefully there will be more in the future. Fingers crossed, at least!

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