Ariana DeBose, 30, hosted the first 2022 episode of Saturday Night Live. The West Side Story actress paid tribute to the film she just starred in with some help from the one and only Kate McKinnon, who revealed she’s a massive fan of the musical (but somehow didn’t see the movie). “I’ve loved it since I was in elementary school,” Kate said, giving COVID-19 as her excuse for not watching Ariana’s version of the film. “I don’t leave the house because of COVID, and also because I don’t leave the house,” she quipped.
Ariana DeBose’s Monologue! pic.twitter.com/HVbv6lxtdo
— Saturday Night Live – SNL (@nbcsnl) January 16, 2022
Regardless, Kate proved her die-hard status as the two ladies belted out some of the most famous songs from the musical turned film, including “I Feel Pretty,” “Tonight,” “America” and “Something’s Coming.” After Ariana described Kate’s performance as “pretty good,” the comedian revealed she had, indeed, been on Broadway — only to clarify she had visited “the street” itself.
Shortly after the news was announced on Jan. 9, Ariana took to Instagram to share the career highlight with her 238,000 followers. “I’m hosting @nbcsnl,” she wrote with a mind exploding emoji, adding the caption onto the iconic post-it note that announces the show each week on SNL‘s social media page. “Hold please while I go collect my extremities, as I have exploded from excitement and sensible fear,” Ariana also said on the post, which got over 40,000 likes.
Several famous fans and pals and jumped into the comments section with love, including SNL cast member Cecily Strong. “WE LOVE TO SEE IT!!!” Cecily commented. Eva Longoria, Joshua Henry, Gabrielle Union, and many others also chimed in. “Omg!!!!’ Eva, who hosted back in 2005, gushed with clapping emojis. “Wait- whaaaat?! Go Ariana GO!” Joshua wrote, while Gab simply added heart and fire emojis as a sign of support.
Ariana earned some serious accolades after appearing as Anita in the Steven Spielberg take on West Side Story, which was conceived by Jerome Robbins with music by Leonard Bernstein in 1957. Rita Moreno, now 90, appeared in the 2021 version alongside Ariana as Valentina (however, she was Anita — the same character Ariana plays — in the original 1961 film).
This week’s episode — much like the final one of 2021 — wasn’t without plenty of last minute change, however: rapper Roddy Ricch was initially set to make his Studio 8H debut until he was pulled due to being exposed to COVID-19. Jack Antonoff‘s band Bleachers was booked to play last minute on Jan. 12 instead, filming promos with Ariana shortly after. “the hardest attempt to date of taking the sadness out of saturday night… bleachers are the first musical guest of 2022,” the band wrote via social media.