Ariana DeBose has come under fire on social media after her performance at the 2023 BAFTA Awards – but an awards show producer said her opening number was celebrated by members of the public on Sunday.
“I think it’s incredibly unfair, to be blunt,” producer Nick Bullen said, speaking to Variety on musical performance. A group of dancers performed alongside the Oscar-winning actress, 32, as she sang ‘Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves’ and ‘We Are Family’ and also rapped about the night’s nominees.
“The songs she was singing are very familiar songs, the room was clapping and people were kind of dancing to the music,” he told the publication. “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.”
RELATED: BAFTA Awards 2023: See the full list of winners
During the number, which followed host Richard E. Grant’s opening monologue, DeBose rapped in part: “Angela Bassett did the thing, Viola Davis my ‘wife king,’ Blanchett Cate you’re a genius, Jamie Lee you’re all of us,” as the camera pans over members of the crowd showing a range of different expressions.
Bullen explained that the West Side Story star “has worked with a great musical director and choreographer” and feels there have been mixed reactions as “a lot of people don’t like change”.
RELATED: Best Dressed Stars at the 2023 BAFTA Awards
“There’s a view that the BAFTAs have to be this slightly stiff, traditional British message from central England,” Bullen said, adding that “American awards shows have a lot more razzmatazz, a lot more showbiz and can -be a wider range of people involved.”
He continued, “We felt we’re not about revolution, we’re about evolution. Let’s just evolve, let’s just move forward with some soft changes that start to define what this show should be and where we should be with it. .”
Never miss a story – subscribe to Free PEOPLE Daily Newsletter to stay up to date on the best that PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to gripping human interest stories.
Although DeBose didn’t talk about the reviews that followed Sunday’s awards show – and his Twitter account appears to be disabled – she had previously addressed social media trolls after her Saturday Night Live hosting gig last year.
“You try to host SNL, read cue cards with mild dyslexia, then come back to me, brah,” the hamilton The actress responded to a user who referenced DeBose by accidentally saying the wrong year during her opening monologue.
“Maybe someone not at Joe Biden’s level in reading since that’s a qualification to play…read lines,” the Instagram user continued, to which DeBose wrote, “Cool . You’re a troll. Goodbye.”