We are so ready for Rachel Zegler, an unknown high school student from New Jersey, to take on the role of Maria in Steven Spielberg’s ‘West Side Story’ remake!
After auditioning more than 30,000 people, Steven Spielberg has found his perfect Maria! It was announced that Spielberg’s remake of West Side Story will star newcomer Rachel Zegler — a 17-year-old high schooler from New Jersey. Don’t let the “unknown” factor fool you, though. Rachel’s had several viral covers from her YouTube channel of more than 86,000 subscribers, she describes herself as a “theatrical mess” and has a voice of a literal angel! “I am so thrilled to be playing the iconic role of Maria alongside this amazing cast,” Zegler said of her casting “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.” Here’s everything you need to know about Rachel, who will star as Maria, opposite of Ansel Elgort in West Side Story!
1. Rachel responded to an open casting call for West Side Story last year.
Steven Spielberg began casting for the role of Maria back in January 2018. Wanting to keep he movie as “ethnically authentic” as possible,the open casting call requested Latinx actors. Zegler responded to the call with a video of herself singing “Tonight” and “Me Siento Hermosa [‘I Feel Pretty].” Of the casting, Spielberg said to The Hollywood Reporter, “I’m so happy that we’ve assembled a cast that reflects the astonishing depth of talent in America’s multifaceted Hispanic community,” said Spielberg. “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.”
2. Rachel starred in local productions RENT, Beauty and the Beast and Les Mis.
Rachel Zegler is no stranger to being the lead role! The 17-year-old has starred as Belle in Beauty and the Beast, Cosette in Les Mis, and Mimi in RENT. Also, she has already played the role of Maria in a local production of West Side Story.
3. She recently went viral for her cover of ‘Shallow.’
Rachel’s cover of “Shallow” from A Star Is Born recently went insanely viral with over 5.54 million views and counting. Then, when haters said it was autotuned, Rachel took to Twitter to post a sound check where she belted out some more “Shallow” lyrics and DAMN, this girl has PIPES!
4. Rachel is an gun control activist and speaks out against social injustices on her social media.
Rachel has shared a number of posts to support the March For Our Lives movement and stand with immigrants. “Protect kids, not guns. i’ve said it before and i’ll say it again: change is necessary for survival. our children are too precious and too important to be lost to the senseless need of guns,” she wrote in March 2018 with the “March For Our Lives” logo. In another, Rachel posed with a “Deport Trump” graffiti.
5. Rachel’s most recent role was as Ariel in a local production of The Little Mermaid.
Rachel Zegler starred as Ariel and the role required her to rock heelys on stage to look as though she was swimming with her Mermaid tale on! The paid tribute to the role on International Mermaid Day in 2018 in an Instagram post, writing, “This role was such a blessing to me (albeit, a blessing in disguise — heelys are hard) and i am so grateful that my best friends were by my side for every second.”