Ariana Debose

The Prom: Ariana DeBose shares the real reason she took on the role of Alyssa Greene

Posted by for Film

Ariana DeBose is one of Broadway’s rising stars who appear in Netflix’s new musical, The Prom. She’s just opened up about the vital reason she chose to take on queer character Alyssa Greene. 

After months of impatiently waiting, musical fans can finally watch The Prom on Netflix this weekend. There’s been a big buzz around Ryan Murphy’s adaptation of the Tony-winning Broadway production, and rightly so. Right now, a bit of razzle-dazzle – along with a celebratory LGBTQ+ story – is exactly the feel-good vibe we need

The movie follows the tale of four failed Broadway stars who attempt to revive their careers by taking on a “good cause”. They come across a queer schoolgirl called Emma who has been banned from her school prom because of her town’s homophobic policies. The mission is to make sure Emma gets the right to safely and proudly go to prom with her secret girlfriend Alyssia (who is one of the most popular and smartest girls at school). 

With Meryl Streep and Nicole Kidman taking on lead parts, it was always going to be one to watch. But it’s the younger cast members – Ariana DeBose as Alyssa and Jo Ellen Pellman as Emma – who really deserve the standing ovation here. 

And DeBose just shared the personal and important reason she took on the role of Alyssa.

Ellen Pellman and Ariana Debose in The Prom on Netflix
Netflix's The Prom: Jo Ellen Pellman as highschool outcast Emma and Ariana Debose as popular girl Alyssa who is secretly dating Emma.

DeBose is a Tony-nominated Broadway actor who has previously starred in stage productions including Hamilton, Motown: The Musical and Summer: The Donna Summer Musical

Speaking to Them in 2018, DeBose talked about her experience as a queer person of colour, saying: “I’ve always felt different – but different for different reasons”. She explained the Broadway community is “very welcoming and accepting” and said she is “surrounded by a community where I [don’t] have to be one thing”.

In a press conference for Netflix, which took place last week, DeBose explained how her experience made her feel a certain “responsibility”. 

“It’s not often that we get to see stories about young, beautiful, brown girls who identify as queer,” she said. “I actually can’t remember the last time I saw it done on a big screen, so I wanted to make sure that I did it right, which is why I brought everything I could to it.

“When I think about young girls, especially living in today’s era, there are so many different pressures asides from trying to define themselves [through] gender expression and the clothes they’re going to wear… Like, getting the grades in school to get into college and realising ‘Oh the people I’m surrounded by, I’m attracted to. There are so many different things that people are trying to figure out today.”

DeBose added: “I wanted to make sure that I [used] all those pressures in the performance because I think if you can see yourself on a screen, you see that your story matters and [that you] can have a happy ending. That you have a greater chance to go out and find that same type of success.

“So I do feel a great sense of responsibility with this.”

The Prom lands on Netflix on 11 December.

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Images: Getty, Netflix

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Hollie Richardson

Hollie is a digital writer at Stylist.co.uk, mainly covering the daily news on women’s issues, politics, celebrities and entertainment. She also keeps an ear out for the best podcast episodes to share with readers. Oh, and don’t even get her started on Outlander…