Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story remake has officially cast its Maria after a nationwide search.
According to Entertainment Weekly, Rachel Zegler, a New Jersey high schooler, has been cast in the role. She was amongst 30,000 Latinx actresses who auditioned for the role via video submissions after an online casting call went out. For her tape, she performed “Tonight” and “Me Siento Hermosa”.
Zegler will star opposite Ansel Elgort, who will play Tony. Also in the cast are Ariana DeBose as Anita, David Alvarez as Bernado, and, the original film Anita and actual goddess, Rita Moreno.
Zegler took to Twitter to announce her excitement at joining the cast.
it’s official! so thankful to have the opportunity to work with one of my favorite directors and this incredible cast! and to be able to learn from the best (and one of my icons) @TheRitaMoreno is just BEYOND. surreal! https://t.co/qHLTRMWWOU
— rachel zegler (@rachelzegler) January 14, 2019
She also expressed her excitement in a press release, “I am so thrilled to be playing the iconic role of Maria alongside this amazing cast. West Side Story was the first musical I encountered with a Latina lead character. As a Colombian-American, I am humbled by the opportunity to play a role that means so much to the Hispanic community.”
Spielberg is also pleased with the talented cast for the movie, which took special care to find Latinx actors to fill those roles.
“When we began this process a year ago, we announced that we would cast the roles of Maria, Anita, Bernardo, Chino and the Sharks with Latina and Latino actors. I’m so happy that we’ve assembled a cast that reflects the astonishing depth of talent in America’s multifaceted Hispanic community. I am in awe of the sheer force of the talent of these young performers, and I believe they’ll bring a new and electrifying energy to a magnificent musical that’s more relevant than ever.”
Production on the film will take place later this year, but there is no release date at this time.