This interview originally ran at LatinaMedia.

Since winning her first Academy Award for her role in Steven Spielberg’s 2021 remake of West Side Story, Ariana DeBose keeps putting in the work. While taking home an Oscar should mean Hollywood’s top directors start lining up to cast you in their next film, it’s just not true. Today, if DeBose’s interested in a role, she has no reservations about writing a letter to a filmmaker and asking to be considered for the part.

“I feel like I’ve had many opportunities presented to me, but none of it has gotten easier,” DeBose, 32, told me during an interview last week. “I’m still hustling. I’m just hustling in different circles. I’m still doing my homework.”

In her new suspense thriller, I.S.S., DeBose plays Dr. Kira Foster, one of three American astronauts who are assigned to work on the International Space Station (I.S.S.) with three cosmonauts. When a nuclear conflict breaks out on Earth between the U.S. and Russia, both sets of crew members have to figure out how to respond when their governments order them to take control of the I.S.S. by any means necessary.

DeBose describes the experience of starring in a film set in space and replicating zero gravity as an “exhilarating challenge.” The cast, she said, was harnessed and tethered to a multi-axis framework to easily move around the set, so it would look like they were actually floating in the cosmos.

“I did employ a great deal of my imagination,” she said. “We trained and were taught how to balance our weight. I discovered I was using every muscle in my body to appear weightless. I found it very freeing and liberating.”

In terms of picking projects, “I just look for good material and things that speak to me,” she said. “I don’t like doing the same thing twice. I have to balance being discerning with my love for work. I feel when I am not working or creatively stimulated in some way, I’m sort of suffocating.”

DeBose wants to keep it moving – and that can lead to problems. “I’ve had to do a lot of work on not functioning from a scarcity mindset,” she said. “It’s really complicated to find a balance and the right time to do anything. Now that I’m playing in the film and television industry, I’m very used to feeling as if I need to say yes, so that I don’t lose the opportunity because it may not come back.”

At this stage in her career, DeBose doesn’t have to worry about not finding opportunities. Along with I.S.S., she stars in two other films slated for release this year – the spy action comedy Argylle and the Marvel movie Kraven the Hunter. She also finished the supernatural horror film, House of Spoils.

“I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given,” DeBose said. “There might be that fear of missing out, but I am also someone who believes that if there’s something that’s right for you, it will not miss you.”

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