Rachel Zegler in “West Side Story”: the adolescent of Colombian origin that Steven Spielberg chose to star in the new version of the mythical musical


A hitherto almost unknown young woman plays Maria in the new version of the iconic West Side Story, directed by Steven Spielberg and which premieres this December.

Rachel Zegler, 20, was chosen from among 30,000 candidates who responded to an ad in January 2018 calling for Latino actors and actresses for various roles in Spielberg’s film, which is receiving rave reviews.

In the 1961 film version of the musical, many of the Puerto Rican characters were played by non-Latino actors who had their skin darkened with makeup, something Spielberg did not want to happen this time.

Rachel Zegler is the daughter of an American of Polish descent and a Colombian woman, and before being chosen to play Maria, she was finishing high school in her native New Jersey.

In February 2021, it was announced that Zegler will participate in the movie “Shazam! Fury of the Gods” and a few months later it became known that she was chosen to play Snow White in the new Disney adaptation.

At the moment she is receiving rave reviews for her role in West Side Story and there is even talk that she could be nominated for an Oscar.

This Thursday the prestigious US National Board of Review chose her as the best actress of the year for playing Maria.

Puerto Rican-born actress Ariana DeBose, who plays Anita, is also receiving rave reviews.

Controversy with the original film

The 1961 film West Side Story was criticized for having a predominantly white cast to play Latino characters.

At the time, the 1961 film was criticized for hiring non-Latino actors for Puerto Rican characters, such as Natalie Wood (pictured), who played Maria. GETTY IMAGES

Natalie Wood, who played Maria in the film, was a Russian American.

In 2017, actress Rita Moreno, one of the few Puerto Ricans in the 1961 film, who also won an Oscar for her role as Anita, said on The Thick podcast that at the time she felt uncomfortable with the dark makeup that was being put on her. to his companions.

Moreno, the first Latina to win an Oscar, also appears in the Spielberg remake.

When he announced the remake, the director made it clear that he would only hire Latino actors and actresses for the Puerto Rican roles.

“I am very happy to have assembled a cast that reflects the impressive wealth of talent in the US Hispanic community,” Spielberg told the Deadline site at the time.



Read also


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.