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BAFTA producer says Ariana DeBose’s backlash against viral rap is ‘incredibly unfair’

BAFTA Awards producer Nick Bullen has spoken out in defense of Oscar winner Ariana DeBose after her performance at Sunday’s ceremony was widely criticized online.

“I think it’s incredibly unfair, to be frank,” Bullen said. Variety in an interview. “I absolutely loved it. Everyone I spoke to who was in the room absolutely loved it. She’s a huge star, she was incredible.”

THE West Side Story The star took the stage with backup dancers after host Richard E. Grant’s opening monologue. She sang “Sisters Are Doing It for Themselves” and “We Are Family,” then followed up with a rap saluting the female nominees.

Ariana DeBose performs on stage during the EE BAFTA Film Awards 2023 held at the Royal Festival Hall on February 19, 2023 in London, England.Ariana DeBose performs on stage during the EE BAFTA Film Awards 2023 held at the Royal Festival Hall on February 19, 2023 in London, England.

Ariana DeBose performs on stage during the EE BAFTA Film Awards 2023 held at the Royal Festival Hall on February 19, 2023 in London, England.

Kate Green/BAFTA/Getty Images Ariana DeBose performs at the 2023 BAFTA Awards

“Angela Bassett did the thing/Viola Davis ma Woman King/ Blanchett Cate, you’re a genius / Jamie Lee, you’re all of us,” DeBose rapped. The clip immediately went viral.

“That rap section in the middle, mentioning the women in the room, was because it’s been a great year for women in film, and we wanted to celebrate that,” Bullen said. “And here is a woman of color who is at the top of her game. And she opens the BAFTAs with a song that speaks volumes on so many levels.”

The performance, particularly the rap, was widely remembered, and the phrase “Angela Bassett did it” continues to trend on social media. Many made fun of the awkward lyrics, but not all responses were negative. Some accepted it as a top camp.

Following his BAFTA performance, DeBose deactivated his Twitter account. However, she responded to one of the “Sure Grandma, let’s go to bed” memes posted on Instagram.

“I honestly love it,” DeBose wrote in the comments.

When asked who wrote the rap lyrics, Bullen replied, “She only had a few weeks to put it all together. She worked with a great musical director and choreographer. So it was a real team effort. She had an incredible team around her, and she and her team put it all together.”

Reflecting on the response, Bullen added: “I think a lot of people don’t like change, and some people think the BAFTAs need to be this slightly stiff, traditional British message from the middle of England. But American awards shows have a lot more razzmatazz, a lot more showbiz and perhaps a wider range of people involved. We felt that we were not talking about revolution, but about evolution.

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