The first photo of the new Steven Spielberg adaptation of “West Side Story” is finally here! Variety has officially released the photo featuring Ansel Elgort and Rachel Zegler as Tony and Maria and we cannot get enough.
Colombian-American Zegler, 17, and 28-year-old Puerto Rican Broadway star Ariana DeBose, playing Anita, are two Latinas intentionally cast in the lead roles after Spielberg and his team put out a call for Latinx actors.
The cast also features David Alvarez, a Canadian born to Cuban parents as Bernardo, Maria’s brother and the leader of the Sharks and theater actor Josh Andrés Rivera as Chino. The Broadway classic tells the story of two young lovers from rival gangs, the Jets and the Sharks, set in New York in 1957 in the midst of racial tensions.
The photo has Elgort and Zegler front and center, lovingly looking into each other’s eyes while flanked by the Jets and Sharks.
The image teaser features (from left to right) Jets members Anybodys (Ezra Menas), Mouthpiece (Ben Cook), Action (Sean Harrison Jones); Jets leader Riff (Mike Faist); Baby John (Patrick Higgins); Tony (Ansel Elgort) and Maria (Rachel Zegler); Maria’s brother and Sharks leader Bernardo (David Alvarez); and Sharks members Quique (Julius Anthony Rubio), Chago (Ricardo Zayas), Chino (Josh Andrés Rivera), Braulio (Sebastian Serra) and Pipo (Carlos Sánchez Falú).
The iconic Rita Moreno played Anita in the 1961 film version of the 1957 Leonard Bernstein-Stephen Sondheim musical for which she won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar.
Pasadena’s Annual Rose Bowl kicked off 2020 with three generations of Latinas as Grand Marshals, signaling city-wide solidarity with Latina-American’s cultural and athletic contributions to the United States’ history. Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Peabody and Tony award-winner Rita Moreno was joined by Olympic gymnast Laurie Hernandez and actress Gina Torres as the parade’s grand marshals, much to the excitement of all Latinos who tuned in for the annually-presented programming. Luis Recalde, an Argentine-American living in Huntington Park, told The Los Angeles Times that, in hindsight, every parade he’s attended over the last six years were “very commercial,” but that the Latino representation this year helped those minorities who “want to feel near their country.”
For the women who got to participate in the coin toss and wave at throngs of Angelinos of all races, cultures, and walks of life, the opportunity was just as thrilling.
There is a reason so much diversity was palpably felt this year compared to last. For the first time ever, a Latina was elected president of the Tournament of Roses Association. Laura Farber is the Argentine immigrant who oversaw the entire parade production meant to mark the beginning of a new year and offer hope to the Angeles community. With a Latina in leadership, we finally got to see Latinas honored at the highest level the Tournament of Roses Association offers: Grand Marshals.
Gina Torres took to social media to comment on the grandiosity of the moment. “Rolling into 2020 as a Grand Marshal,” she wrote in an Instagram post. “Let’s break that down, shall we? Grand: 1)Impressive in size, appearance or general effect 2) stately, dignified majestic ✨Marshal: A military officer of the highest rank ???????? Oh! So like, The HBIC of everyone’s dreams???? Let’s do this. I’m ready. Are you?” Torres is the Afro-Cuban-American who has taken over USA Network as the starring actress in “Suits” and “Pearson.” When she’s not winning National Hispanic Media Coalition Awards, she’s giving back to Dress for Success and Planned Parenthood.
Meanwhile, Rita Moreno actually practiced her coin toss before the nationally-televised event.
“My family and I were astounded at how beautifully your entire organization, from the President to the hundreds of devoted volunteers, handled what could have been a logistical nightmare in less capable hands,” Moreno shared on Instagram. “We deeply appreciated all you did to make the day an outstanding experience for all involved! Bravo????❤️????,” she added after half a dozen posts commemorating the event.
Of course, Moreno can entertain us all even with a simple coin toss.
At 88-years-old, many folks saw that Rita Moreno was trending on Twitter and braced themselves for the worst news. Much to our delight, Rita Moreno is thriving, offering a flourishing dramatic coin toss complete with karate chops on nationally-televised programming in front of tens of thousands of people because, well, she can. Moreno has long been marching for social justice issues ranging from civil rights, education, and jobs. Her contributions to the Latino community go without saying.
Laurie Hernandez called the entire experience “insane.”
“One of the best New Years ever,” the Olympic gold-medalist wrote on social media. “Co-grand Marshall at the Rose Parade??? insane. if you would’ve told me this was happening when i was younger, i wouldn’t have believed you????.” Hernandez, also a Puerto Rican like Moreno, was the youngest of the generations represented, but certainly as accomplished. Hernandez is the first U.S. born Latina to make the U.S. Olympic Women’s Gymnastics Team since 1984 and has earned our country gold and silver medals during the 2016 Olympics. Since then, she’s gone on to win ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars,”authored two books, including a feminist children’s book, and spends her spare time combating bullying with national non-profits.
That’s not all. The crowd roared when Los Lobos started playing “La Bamba” from a parade float.
It’s clear that the Grand Marshal choices were not a singular token effort to reflect the culture of Los Angeles. Other honored guests included first Latina astronaut Ellen Ochoa, “Sesame Street” voice Sonia Manzano, and Spanish-language Dodgers announcer Jaime Jarrín. Puerto Rican, Mexican, Salvadoran, and Costa Rican flags waved as their respective marching bands performed in salute to the vibrant cultures weaved into American society.
“An all Latina Rose Parade grand Marshall, Latina President, bands from El Salvador, Costa Rica, Mexico, & Los Lobos closing out the show?!!?!! This is an awesome way to start 2020! #RoseParade,” tweeted one fan, who frankly speaks for us all.
When “One Day At A Time” got canceled, people on social media lost their minds. The cancelation was hurtful, not just because we loved the show, but because we already have a lack of representation on television. Thankfully, now that “One Day At A Time” is back, we feel a bit more in the mix, but we still would like to see our people and our stories on the small screen. We do have at least one cheerleader who is changing the game. This talented person is putting our people and our stories at the forefront of Hollywood, where we belong.
Amazon Studios announced that they signed Gloria Calderón Kellett to a historic 3-year deal to create and develop TV series and films for the streaming network.
According to Deadline, Calderón Kellett signed a reported eight-figure deal making it the first time a Latina creator has gotten such a huge payday, and we’re so thrilled for her.
“I have been so blown away by the original series coming out of Amazon,” Calderón Kellett said in an interview with Deadline. “Their commitment to supporting creators, specifically women, has been next level. It’s clear they are committed to supporting outstanding, quality television. When I met the diverse Amazon Studios team of creative executives, I immediately felt a kinship and connection. I could see immediately that our values and ideals in creating quality programming for underrepresented voices was a shared passion. I am overjoyed to take my next creative steps with them.”
Calderón Kellett may not be a familiar face, but you have seen her work everywhere. She’s the co-creator, executive producer and co-showrunner for “One Day At A Time.”
One of the reasons why we love the authenticity of “One Day At A Time” is because it’s heartfelt storylines that touch on so many vital issues. Calderón Kellett, who is Cuban-American, has such an effortless and beautiful execution of words, which is why she has had so much deserving success in Hollywood.
“I’ve been wary of writing about my family because I love them, and they’re very precious to me,” Calderón Kellett said to NBC News in 2017. “I’d heard over the years friends saying to be careful writing your personal experience because you only get to do that once or twice if you’re lucky.”
Here are just some of the previous TV shows she has worked on.
The writer, who got her start as a playwright, landed her big break on “How I Met Your Mother.” She also worked on “Devious Maids” and impressively worked as an actress on “Jane the Virgin” and “United We Fall” among others.
“Gloria is an incredible storyteller, who has written and created series that are not only culturally relevant, but engaging, relatable, and hilarious,” Vernon Sanders, Co-Head of Television, Amazon Studios told Deadline. “We are all delighted that Gloria will join the Amazon Studios family and excited to see the new projects she’ll bring to our Prime Video customers around the world.”
We also adore her Instagram where she amplifies important causes vital to the Latino community.
Just last week, Calderón Kellett posted an image and caption crucial to Latinas. “Today is #LatinaEqualPay Day when Latinas’ catch up’ to what white, non-Hispanic men were paid in 2018,” she wrote. “The gap is widest for Latina workers, who on average earn only 54 cents for every $1 a man is paid. Meaning, they must work nearly two years to earn what white men earn in one year. This is unacceptable, and we need to act now. Latinas are phenomenal, and we deserve equal pay!” That post came just days before the Amazon announcement, so we’re thrilled that she is getting the pay rate she deserves.
Now that she has this incredible deal, we’re wondering (and very curious to know) what type of shows she’ll be creating.
Mrs. Calderón Kellett, if you’re reading this, here’s a story idea that we’d love to see on the small screen. A Latina journalist is tired of working at a small newspaper where she covers local beauty pageants and soccer games. One day she uncovers a big political scandal and lands her first cover story, but the real story isn’t over, which leads her to the steps of the White House. The show would involve politics, much-needed diversity in newsrooms, and of course, lots of Latinx drama and humor. What do you say??