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Ariana DeBose chats about Apple TV’s Schmigadoon!: ‘Diverse casting is necessary, good and it sells’

Ariana DeBose in Schmigadoon
Ariana DeBose stars as Emma Tate in Schmigadoon. Pic credit: Apple TV+

The Apple TV+ musical comedy Schmigadoon! has taken viewers by storm. It seamlessly combines musical theater with campy comedy, creating a family-friendly show that’s destined to entertain all.

The series features a diverse cast comprised of seasoned television actors and classic theater icons. Starring in Schmigadoon! are actors Cecily Strong, Keegan-Michael Key, Kristin Chenoweth, Jamie Camil, and Ariana DeBose.

DeBose joins the Schmigadoon! cast as schoolteacher and sneaky love interest, Miss Emma Tate.

Throughout the series, long-term couple Melissa (Strong) and Josh (Key) find themselves searching for an adventure to reignite the love in their dull relationship. They venture upon a magical, musical town called Schmigadoon! and to escape, they must find true love. The situation gets rather complicated when they discover that their “true love” is not one another.

DeBose wows as Emma Tate, performing extensive dance numbers and bringing a whole-lotta spunk to the show.

In our exclusive interview with the Broadway actor, DeBose shared with Monsters and Critics, “I believe Emma is the everywoman. You end up wanting to hang out with her. You want to know what she thinks or she might accidentally, quietly tell you about yourself or lend a helping hand. You never really know what you’re going to get with her, but she’s absolutely lovable.”

Monsters and Critics had the opportunity to chat with DeBose about her Schmigadoon! character, her musical awakening, and the importance of diversity on stage and screen.

DeBose on her first musical influence

This 30-year-old actor has made herself a home on the Broadway stage. She dazzled her way through Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton playing the ensemble character The Bullet. She has also starred in A Bronx Tale and Summer: The Donna Summer Musical, earning herself a Tony nomination for the latter.

The talented actor can also be seen in the Netflix adaptation of Broadway’s The Prom and the forthcoming adaptation of West Side Story. Speaking about her “musical awakening,”

DeBose shared, “I actually grew up with movie musicals. Right? So I got bit by the bug watching Annie, you know, the film with Ann Reinking.”

She added, “Ann Reinking, specifically, in Annie, is what got me.”

DeBose continued, “One of the first musicals I ever saw on Broadway was Aida. And I could not believe that you could do this. I would say between those two, and they’re very different musicals, that’s what got me.”

DeBose chats about Schmigadoon!

The Emma Tate actor also gave us some insight into what we can expect from her character in future episodes. DeBose chuckled and gave us the impression that we have a lot of drama to prepare for.

She said, “[Emma Tate’s] like a surprise, you know, you think she’s one thing, and then she’s like, whoa, bam.”

Speaking about her dance numbers, DeBose expressed, “Episode four, there are two [dance numbers] in particular, and that’s really exciting. One involves my students, Miss Tate’s students, and I think you’ll enjoy that very much because I have to tell you, those kids are very talented. I mean, we love a lover’s ballad, do we not?”

On the future of musical theater and musical movies, DeBose passionately shared her thoughts on the importance of diverse casting. She praised Schmigadoon! and Apple TV+ for bringing diverse cast members to the center stage.

DeBose said, “Schmigadoon! does wonders for the reality that diverse casting is necessary, good, and it sells. People want to see it. Not only that, Schmigadoon! does an incredible job of putting diverse stories with many different faces at the forefront. How wonderful is it that Emma Tate looks like me and can be literally at the forefront of an episode, or Ann Harada, my Asian sister, at the forefront of an episode.”

She continued to say, “It’s just really exciting. Keegan-Michael Key, seeing a leading man look like him, lead in the way that he is leading. It’s very exciting to be a part of something that is pushing that narrative. And I think it’s a great example to the rest of the industry. And I really applaud Apple TV for championing this show because not every studio would have.”

Check out our full interview below.

New episodes of Schmigadoon arrive on Apple TV+ every Friday.

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