Angela Bassett Messaged Ariana DeBose After BAFTAs Rap to ‘Make Sure She Was OK’

Angela Bassett Ariana DeBose
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images, Dominic Lipinski/Getty Images

Ariana DeBose went from Oscar winner to Internet punching bag after rapping at the BAFTA Film Awards on February 19. But Angela Bassett, subject of DeBose’s most-mocked lyric, says the West Side Story actress is “A-OK.”

“I DM’d her last night. I did. It was beautiful,” Bassett told Variety at the NAACP Image Awards on Saturday, February 25. “I just wanted to make sure she was OK, you know, because it’s a lot of attention. And she is A-OK.”

In her BAFTAs performance, DeBose honored the women up for Supporting Actress and Leading Actress trophies that evening. “Other ladies in the room / Supporting and leading, all here I presume,” she rapped. “Hong Chau, Dolly D., Kerry and Carey with a ‘C’ / Dame Emma, I’m so fond / Ana, girl, you were great in Blonde / Danielle D., you broke my heart / Michelle, I loved you from the start / Angela Bassett did the thing / Viola Davis, my woman king / Blanchett, Cate, you’re a genius / And Jamie Lee, you are all of us!”

The women in question seemed honored — if not a little bemused — by the name-drops. But viewers watching from home were cringing.

“Ariana DeBose, you’re an Oscar winner. You don’t have to do this, I promise,” one person tweeted.

“No way this is real,” wrote another.

And it was DeBose’s breathless recitation of “Angela Bassett did the thing” — paired with her herky-jerky dance moves — that became a social media sensation. “The way both BAFTA hosts, all the winners’ speeches, and all the films just got overshadowed by ‘Angela Bassett did the thing,’” one Twitter user observed.

Amid the backlash, DeBose deactivated her Twitter, and BAFTAs awards producer Nick Bullen told Variety that all the teasing was “incredibly unfair,” saying that DeBose fulfilled the mission of “open[ing] the show with some energy, some fun” and that people in the room “absolutely loved it.”

At separate concerts this week, Lizzo and Adele both referenced DeBose’s Angela Bassett praise, and DeBose herself shared clips of those tributes and others on Instagram on Saturday. “The internet is wild, y’all!” she wrote in her Instagram caption. “Appreciate all the love.”

And in an interview on BBC Radio 2’s The Zoe Ball Breakfast show, DeBose opened up about the reactions to her rap, after host Zoe Ball said she appreciated the rap as a celebration of women.

“You know what, you might be one of the few,” DeBose responded.

“Honestly, it’s not like I’m like, ‘Hey BAFTA, let me in.’ They actually called me, believe it or not,” she said. “But that was the assignment. Like, ‘Come celebrate women,’ and I was like, ‘Absolutely!’ And we did that, and it was fun. Not gonna lie, I had a blast.”

And when Bassett claimed her Entertainer of the Year trophy at the NAACP Image Awards on Saturday, she told the crowd, “I guess Angela Bassett did the thing!”