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Student Blog: Broadway Breaks Boundaries at the Oscars

With the Academy Awards Ceremony coincidentally occurring on World Theatre Day, it only makes sense that Broadway won big at the Oscars.

Student Blog: Broadway Breaks Boundaries at the Oscars

Given the current events affecting our world, it is understandable that many of us seek an escape through theater and film. Due to the pandemic, the worlds of theater and film have begun to merge with Broadway artists and creators participating in their first major films, such as tick, tick... Boom and West Side Story. This past Sunday many of these films and artists received gratifying recognition at the Oscars Ceremony at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles. Thus, with the Oscars Ceremony coincidentally occurring on World Theatre Day, it only makes sense that Broadway won big at the Oscars.

Within the first few minutes of the ceremony, one of the most exciting wins was that of triple threat Ariana DeBose who was last seen on Broadway in Hamilton and Summer: The Donna Summer Musical. Despite being nominated among several Hollywood stars such as Kirsten Dunst and Dame Judi Dench, DeBose won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role of Anita in West Side Story. Besides it being her first Oscar, DeBose's win is a major victory because she is the first openly gay Afro-Latina to win an acting Oscar. Moreover, her co-star in the movie, Rita Moreno, won the same award about sixty years ago for her portrayal of Anita in the original West Side Story movie. The two of them have left their mark on cinema and Oscar history by winning the same award for the same role.

Later in the evening, another groundbreaking win occurred when Troy Kotsur received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his work as Frank in the Best Picture winner CODA. As the first deaf man to win an acting Oscar, Kotsur also made Oscar history this year. Similar to DeBose, Kotsur had a successful stage career before acting in CODA, participating in numerous productions, most notably with the Deaf West Theatre in Los Angeles. In his triumphant and inspiring speech, Kotsur makes sure to recognize and thank the various theatre companies that allowed him to practice his craft. It was also recently announced that the Deaf West Theatre is producing CODA as a stage musical, so maybe Kotsur will be able to reprise his role onstage soon.

Besides these two historic wins, another surprising and thrilling win occurred towards the end of the ceremony when Jessica Chastain won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of Tammy Faye Bakker in The Eyes of Tammy Faye. Although she has been seen in several films and on Broadway in The Heiress, Chastain humbly accepted her first Oscar. She also used her acceptance speech to powerfully champion the LGBTQ+ community, providing hope and support in the face of Florida's "Don't Say Gay" bill.

Other highlights of the night included Encanto winning the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. Among the actors and animators celebrating, Lin Manuel Miranda, the composer of Hamilton on Broadway, also celebrated the Oscar win after composing popular songs like, "We Don't Talk About Bruno" and "Surface Pressure" for the film. Furthermore, West End, Broadway, and film legend Sir Kenneth Branagh won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for his semi-autobiographical film, Belfast, adding to the success of several Broadway creatives and artists at the ceremony.

With the many other distracting events at Sunday's ceremony, it becomes important to emphasize the thrilling and historic moments that occurred throughout the evening. As Broadway continues to expand into film and television, hopefully this year's Oscars ceremony will provide hope that more new and different stories will be told and celebrated in the years to come, enabling us to continue enjoying the depth and richness that theatre and film add to our lives, particularly in troubled times.



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From This Author - Student Blogger: Emily Pugh


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