Angela Bassett References Ariana DeBose's Viral BAFTAs Rap During NAACP Image Awards Speech

The actress, who won the NAACP Image Award for entertainer of the year, recreated the now-viral line on stage while picking up her award

Angela Bassett is getting in on the fun.

The actress, 64, took home the entertainer of the year award at the NAACP Image Awards on Saturday, and while she was onstage to collect the trophy, she referenced a line part of Ariana DeBose's viral rap from the 2023 BAFTA Awards in her acceptance speech.

"I guess Angela Bassett did the thing," joked the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever actress.

Elsewhere in her speech, Bassett thanked Spike Lee, John Singleton, Malcolm X's wife Betty Shabazz and Ryan Coogler, and later shared that "gratitude is the universe's way of saying we are not existing in this world alone," according to Deadline.

Angela Bassett, Ariana DeBose
Paul Morigi/Getty; Stuart Wilson/BAFTA/Getty

The acceptance speech wasn't Bassett's only mention of DeBose's performance either. The actress told Variety on the NAACP Image Awards red carpet that she DM'd the actress, 32, shortly after her BAFTAs moment went viral.

"It was beautiful, it was beautiful, it was beautiful," Bassett said. "I just wanted to make sure she was okay, you know? Because it's a lot of attention."

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 24: Angela Bassett accepts the Best Supporting Actress award for 'Black Panther: Wakanda Forever' onstage during the Hollywood Critics Association's 2023 HCA Film Awards at Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel on February 24, 2023 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty

At the London-based awards show last Sunday, Oscar-winning West Side Story actress DeBose opened the show by performing a rap celebrating this year's female nominees, saying lines like, "Angela Bassett did the thing / Viola Davis, my Woman King / Blanchett, Cate, you're a genius / And Jamie Lee, you are all of us."

DeBose later faced some ridicule and backlash about the performance on social media after, but a producer of the awards show said the routine was celebrated by members of the audience. As part of her showcase, DeBose also sang the songs "Sisters Are Doing It for Themselves" and "We Are Family."

BAFTA Ariana DeBose performance
Ariana DeBose. Stuart Wilson/BAFTA/Getty

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"I think it's incredibly unfair, to be frank," producer Nick Bullen told Variety. "The songs she was singing are very familiar songs, the room was clapping and people were sort of dancing to the music. 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."

DeBose herself has since opened up about the response to her viral rap, telling Zoe Ball in a clip from her BBC Radio 2 Breakfast Show this week that the performance was a "blast."

"You know what, you might be one of the few," DeBose said when Ball revealed she enjoyed the performance in a clip of the interview shared on TikTok Saturday. "I'll take it, because you're my people."

Ball also called the performance a "woman singing and dancing, being magnificent celebrating women," and, as DeBose revealed, that's exactly what she "wanted to do."

"Honestly, it's not like I'm like, 'Hey BAFTA, let me in!' They actually called me, believe it or not," DeBose said. "But that was the assignment. Like, 'Come celebrate women,' and I was like, 'Absolutely!' We did that and it was fun. Not gonna lie, I had a blast."

"[It was] so awesome, and then I spent the rest of the night, you know, cutting a rug. Which, is that something you say here? Cutting a rug with Emma Thompson," she continued, referring to dancing with the actress. "It was fabulous. I had a great time."

After the host and the actress agreed that Thompson "had the moves" as a dancer herself, DeBose shared that she had fans in attendance, including Baz Luhrmann. "He was like, 'No, I think you're great, that was fun. I had fun.' And I was like, 'work,' " she said. "That's a win, you guys. And apparently, gay Twitter seemed to like it? So that's good, I'll take it. I told you, my people."

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Earlier this week, Broadway music director Benjamin Rauhala shared a video on TikTok of DeBose as she rehearsed the now-viral opening number while having makeup applied and her dress fitted beforehand.

"It was an honor to give love to all of these iconic women, and to get the party started! We are giggling at everyone who has our campy little number stuck in their heads," Rauhala captioned the video.

"Thank you for the love, and the hilarious memes," Rauhala added. "We had the BEST time putting this together for our friends at the BAFTAS. What a moment! She did the thing. 😎."

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