Ariana DeBose Says She's Learned to 'Be Present' Through Love and Loss: 'I Keep My Feet On the Ground' (Exclusive)

"I'm very focused on remaining grateful for the moment that I'm in, even if that moment is challenging," the actress tells PEOPLE

<p>Karwai Tang/WireImage</p> Ariana DeBose at the premiere of

Karwai Tang/WireImage

Ariana DeBose at the premiere of 'Argylle'
  • Ariana DeBose opens up to PEOPLE about the importance of staying grounded through what she calls "The Rat Race of Success"

  • The actress is hosting the Tony Awards this year for the third time in a row

  • Viewers can watch DeBose when the 2024 Tony Awards air Sunday, June 16, on CBS and Paramount+

After winning her Oscar for her role in Steven Spielberg's 2021 adaptation of West Side Story, Ariana DeBose got a phone call from Jamie Lee Curtis with a simple question.

"She said, 'Where are your feet? Tell me where your feet are,' " DeBose, 33, recalls to PEOPLE.

It was clear why Curtis was asking. DeBose had come on the other side of a massive year, the movie musical making the stage star a household name, catapulting her into the history books as the first Afro-Latina and first openly queer woman of color to win an acting Academy Award.

She had been on every talk show, taken home every major award leading up to it and was on her way to being named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine.

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

<p>Mike Coppola/Getty</p> Jamie Lee Curtis and Ariana DeBose at the 2023 Oscars

Mike Coppola/Getty

Jamie Lee Curtis and Ariana DeBose at the 2023 Oscars

So yeah, Curtis was right for asking. But her question had a bigger impact than she might have imagined.

"It's really something that has stuck with me ever since because it reminds me to be in the moment that I'm in and not take anything for granted," DeBose says. "My feet are on the ground. I'm very focused on remaining grateful for the moment that I'm in, even if that moment is challenging."

That's been especially important for DeBose to embrace these days. Her career has only continued to grow over the years, with a slew of projects on the horizon including the new superhero flick Kraven the Hunter, out in December.

On Sunday, June 16, she'll host the 2024 Tony Awards — a show that will mark her third time up as emcee of Broadway's biggest night.

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

Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions)

Ariana DeBose at the 2023 Tony Awards

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

With her plate perpetually full, she admits to PEOPLE that the struggle to keep those feet on the ground "hasn't been easy," especially in her industry.

"We as an entertainment community perpetuate this idea that we always have to be moving forward to safeguard the success we've already achieved and level up," the Wish star says. "I call it, 'The Rat Race of Success' — which it's a terrible way to look at it potentially, but sometimes, that's how it feels."

"It's hard, always having to ask 'What's the next thing?' " she adds. "And I say this, especially as a queer woman of color, and one with what people would consider a specific set of talents, because sometimes the industry doesn't necessarily know what to do with you."

<p>Karwai Tang/WireImage</p> Ariana DeBose at the November 2023 UK premiere of 'Wish'

Karwai Tang/WireImage

Ariana DeBose at the November 2023 UK premiere of 'Wish'

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

So how has the North Carolina native learned to navigate it?

"I try to remain creative of how I put myself out there and how I continue to challenge myself, because I am also a person that believes I've only scratched the surface of my capabilities," DeBose shares. "You have to invest in yourself. You have to build something for yourself. You have to take big risks. You have to be uncomfortable and in terms of people around you, become uncomfortable."

Being kind to herself is also a big part of it, the actress points out, as is remaining open to the fact that not every day will be perfect.

"Balancing that knowledge while remaining present and prioritizing my own mental health and my own peace is an ongoing journey," DeBose says. "Some days, it's not great and other days, it's beautifully blissful. But I do try to sit in gratitude with all the things that I do have. Because when you focus on what you don't have, I find that it leads to misery."

<p>Christopher Polk/WWD via Getty Images</p> Ariana DeBose in January 2024

Christopher Polk/WWD via Getty Images

Ariana DeBose in January 2024

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That's a lesson that DeBose tells PEOPLE has especially come in handy in her personal life. "I've had my own experiences with love and loss, and I think the greatest thing I've taken away from those experiences is to be present with what you have," she says. "Love it while you have it, but don't love it so much that you're not willing to let it go."

"Life has its own plan," DeBose reflects. "The things that are truly meant for you will never miss you. The things that are meant for you will know your face, you know what I mean? That's something I really meditate on. It's allowed me to find a freedom in truly living."

The 2024 Tony Awards will take place on Sunday, June 16, at Lincoln Center's David H. Koch Theater in N.Y.C. Viewers can watch the show on CBS and Paramount+ beginning at 8 p.m. ET. Select winners will be handed out in a pre-show airing on Pluto TV beginning at 7 p.m. ET.

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Read the original article on People.