BAFTAs awards producer Nick Bullen has described the criticism of Ariana DeBose’s opening performance as “incredibly unfair.”
DeBose began the ceremony with renditions of ‘Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves’ and ‘We Are Family’, before breaking into an original rap paying tribute to the awards’ female nominees.
“Angela Bassett did the thing, Viola Davis my Woman King, Blanchett Cate you’re a genius, Jamie Lee you are all of us,” sang the West Side Story star as she danced around the stage.
The performance immediately received a backlash on social media, with many describing it as “awkward” and “painful” to watch. DeBose has since deactivated her Twitter account.
Sisters are doing it for themselves! The incredible @ArianaDeBose opens the 2023 #EEBAFTAs with an iconic performance! ✨ pic.twitter.com/G9YgKN2e1t
— BAFTA (@BAFTA) February 19, 2023
Speaking to Variety, Bullen explained that the DeBose put the “whole piece together” with her team, working closely with musical director and choreographer, and didn’t deserve the criticism.
“I think it’s incredibly unfair, to be frank. I absolutely loved it,” he said. “Everybody I’ve spoken to who was in the room absolutely loved it. She’s a huge star, she was amazing.”
He added: “We wanted to open the show with some energy, some fun, and also lay out straight away that this was hopefully going to feel like a different night, but with a familiarity as well, and what Ariana did was exactly that.”
Asked why he thought the performance didn’t go down well with viewers at home, he said: “I think a lot of people don’t like change, and there’s a view that the BAFTAs have to be this slightly stiff, traditional British, middle-England messaging.
“But American awards shows have much more razzmatazz, much more showbiz, and perhaps a broader range of people being involved. We felt we’re not about revolution, we’re about evolution.”
Elsewhere, fans of Paul Mescal and Collin Farrell have claimed that the actors were “robbed” of a BAFTA after losing out to Elvis star Austin Butler in the Leading Actor category.