Ariana DeBose Reveals Why This May Be the Last Time She Hosts the Tony Awards ‘for a While’ (Exclusive)

PEOPLE caught up with the Oscar winner to discuss her role as emcee on Broadway's biggest night

<p>Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions</p> Ariana DeBose at the 2023 Tony Awards

Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions

Ariana DeBose at the 2023 Tony Awards
  • The 2024 Tony Awards are being hosted by Ariana DeBose, a gig that will mark her third time in a row hosting

  • She tells PEOPLE what she loves about being the emcee for the Broadway honors, but notes she doesn't plan on hosting again 'for awhile' after this

  • Viewers can watch DeBose when the awards air Sunday, June 16, on CBS and Paramount+

Ariana DeBose has hosted the Tony Awards twice before, but the pressure she feels leading Broadway's biggest night hasn't gone away.

"Oh, every year I want to throw up," the Oscar-winning actress and stage vet, 33, tells PEOPLE, in the latest issues on newsstands now. "I'm not going to lie. I have a trash can waiting in the wings."

"I never in a million years thought I'd host the Tony Awards. That was not in any sort of plan that I saw for myself. And last year I was so nervous. I paced for a solid 30 minutes by myself," she recalls. "I've never done that in the history of my performing career."

<p>Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions)</p> Ariana DeBose during the 2023 Tony Awards opening number

Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions)

Ariana DeBose during the 2023 Tony Awards opening number

Related: Ariana DeBose Returning to Host the 2024 Tony Awards for the Third Year in a Row

Viewers watching DeBose certainly couldn't tell — especially in last year's dance-centric opening number, when she flung herself off the grand lobby staircase of New York City’s United Palace theater in Washington Heights only to be caught, one flight down, by dancer Julius Anthony Rubio.

Perhaps that's because DeBose makes it all look so easy.

A trained dancer, skilled singer and dynamic actress, she has that triple threat energy so often present in performers working the boards on Broadway.

20th Century Studios Ariana DeBose (center) in the 'West Side Story' remake
20th Century Studios Ariana DeBose (center) in the 'West Side Story' remake

Related: Ariana DeBose Is 'Floored' by Her Journey from Small Town Theater to Acting in 'West Side Story'

But its the North Carolina native's willingness to take bold risks and commit fully to her work with complete earnestness that has helped her stand out from the crowd, breaking her free from ensemble roles in Hamilton to prominent parts onstage, like in 2018's Summer (which earned DeBose her first Tony nomination).

That theatricality has served DeBose well in her move to screen, too, where she's been able to show off her skills in Schmigadoon!, The Prom, as the voice of a Disney princess in Wish and, in her Oscar-winning role in Steven Spielberg's 2021 West Side Story remake.

Emma McIntyre/Getty Ariana DeBose after winning her Oscar for 'West Side Story' in 2022
Emma McIntyre/Getty Ariana DeBose after winning her Oscar for 'West Side Story' in 2022

She's especially happy because, in her role, DeBose is able to serve as an ambassador to bring new eyes to the theater.

"The Tony Awards is a very important moment for the Broadway community, and a night that has real economic impact on how this industry functions. So it feels like a sacred responsibility to be there to show what they have to offer, and something I don't take lightly," she shares, noting the struggles the stage community has had in rebuilding audiences after the pandemic.

"There's such a vast variety of talent and creativity on display on these stages,” she adds. “There's truly no place like Broadway. And I'm grateful that I have even a fraction of the platform that I hold to try and be a helpful entity."

That doesn't mean that hosting is easy. Those aforementioned nerves aside, DeBose has had to face a number of challenges each year she's hosted — from the industry's emergence post-pandemic to last year's writer's strike, which saw DeBose host entirely without a script.

Theo Wargo/Getty Ariana DeBose hosting the 2022 Tony Awards
Theo Wargo/Getty Ariana DeBose hosting the 2022 Tony Awards

Related: 2024 Tony Awards: Sarah Paulson, Jeremy Strong, Rachel McAdams and More Nab Nominations — See the Full List

This year will be present a new obstacle: another new location. "We started at Radio City, and we were up in Washington Heights, and this year we're at Lincoln Center. So every year it's been different," DeBose says.

"You think it wouldn't matter, but each location has its own energy. You have to take into consideration how the audience fills the space, what other things you can do."

No matter what DeBose does, she plans to keep things positive.

"When you look at the other award shows that are predominately about film and television, most of those are hosted by comedians. A comedian, I am not," she laughs.

"But I look at that as a strength and go down a different path. I'm an actor; I love the people I'm surrounded by. So I choose to celebrate that and let the energy and excitement of the evening lead."

<p>Todd Owyoung/NBC via Getty</p> Ariana DeBose on 'The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon' in January 2024

Todd Owyoung/NBC via Getty

Ariana DeBose on 'The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon' in January 2024

She's also keenly aware of the emotions of the nominees in the room, having been one herself. "That's at the forefront of my mind," DeBose notes to PEOPLE.

"The nominees, they've been on a very long road," she explains. "It is, for lack of a better word, a campaign, and it takes so much energy. A lot of times people have not slept. And in regards to the Tony Awards, not only are they showing up to event after event — doing photo shoots, going to lunches, doing the interviews — but also, they're also doing their show eight times a week at night."

She continues: "That's a whole other level of stamina that is added to all of this. Watch me and you'll see, I try to be very sensitive to that and find ways really let them enjoy themselves. Because quite frankly, they have earned it."

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<p>Mike Marsland/WireImage</p> Ariana DeBose in November 2023

Mike Marsland/WireImage

Ariana DeBose in November 2023

Related: Nicole Scherzinger Will Perform at 2024 Tony Awards for Emotional 'In Memoriam' Segment (Exclusive)

DeBose has also earned something herself: a well-needed break. After a few years of working non-stop, she allowed herself some space the past few months (though still has seven projects in pre and post-production, including the upcoming Kraven the Hunter).

Still, the time to herself has allowed her to focus on what she wants next: a return to Broadway. "I am really craving being back on stage, in a larger way than simply hosting the Tonys," she says. "And for that reason, this will probably be one of the last times I host for a while, so someone else can hold the ropes."

"I'll leave them my bucket," she jokes.

The 2024 Tony Awards airs Sunday, June 16, on CBS and Paramount+ beginning at 8 p.m. ET. Select awards will be handed out in a pre-show viewers can stream that beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET on Pluto TV, the leading free streaming television service.

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