entertainment

Meet Rachel Zegler, The Teen Latina Who Just Scored The Lead In Steven Spielberg’s ‘West Side Story’ Remake

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More than 30,000 women auditioned for the role of Maria in Steven Spielberg’s upcoming remake of “West Side Story.” The casting directors held auditions in Puerto Rico, just to be sure they looked at everyone that would be perfect for this coveted part. Rachel Zegler, a 17-year-old New Jersey high school student, was one of those who auditioned and she nailed it. While her name might not be familiar, the teenager has a long history of performing on stage, just not the professional one.

“When I played Maria on stage a few summers ago, I never could have imagined that I’d be taking on the role again in Steven Spielberg’s ‘West Side Story,'” Zegler wrote on Instagram. “I send a huge thank you to everyone who helped make this incredible dream a reality — I never could’ve done it alone. I am so honored to join the legendary Rita Moreno, Ansel Elgort, Ariana DeBose, David Alvarez, and Josh Andrés Rivera. As a Colombian-American woman growing up in this day and age, strong roles like Maria are so important. To be able to bring that role to life— a role that means so much to the Hispanic community— is so humbling. I hope you’re all as excited as I am.”

So who is this talented beauty? Here’s how Zegler got the role of a lifetime, and some pivotal moments that lead up to it. 

The 17-year-old high school senior from New Jersey went viral last month after she posted a video of herself singing “Shallow” from “A Star Is Born.”

Twitter/@rachelzegler

This isn’t how she won the role of Maria, but it certainly didn’t hurt because everyone heard her incredible voice. Film producers, including the director, saw her audition which included two songs from “West Side Story,” “Tonight” and “Me Siento Hermosa” (“I Feel Pretty”).

She is humbled and thrilled to play the part of Maria because it represents so much.

Instagram/@rachelzegler

“I am so thrilled to be playing the iconic role of Maria alongside this amazing cast,” Zegler told The Hollywood Reporter. “‘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.”

The big casting announcement also included the names of three other Latinos tapped for lead roles.

Instagram/@bwayblurbs

Ariana DeBose will play Anita, David Alvarez will be Bernardo, and Josh Andrés Rivera will be Chino.

We’re really excited to see the chemistry between her and leading actor Ansel Elgort, who will play Tony.

Instagram/@baldepipoca

You may remember Elgort from his films “Baby Driver,” “Divergent,” and “The Fault in Our Stars.”

She has played countless roles at her school including Ariel from “The Little Mermaid.”

Instagram/@rachelzegler

Zegler said playing Ariel was a blessing and she looks absolutely adorable in the role.

She’s also portrayed the lead in “Thoroughly Modern Millie.”

Instagram/@rachelzegler

She’s a true professional, even though she’s still in high school. There is no denying that Zegler is meant to be on stage and in front of the camera. She can sing, dance, and act.

She is a theater junky who can’t get enough of Broadway.

Instagram/@rachelzegler

Her social media is filled with singing videos, and portraits like this one above, in which she goes on and on about her life as a performer. She captioned this picture with: “what to expect if you go on vacation with a theatre person.”

Do you think she has what it takes to portray the new Maria?

Instagram/@scorpiolgy

While Natalie Wood did a good job in the role, people are over the moon that there will be a Latina playing the role of Maria. Spielberg made it clear that when they were casting they wanted to make sure to include Latino talent in the Latino roles for authenticity.

Her family is supportive of her ambitions.

Instagram/@jacinblack

In a recent post, Zegler thanked her mom for all of her support. “These past few months have been absolutely insane and there’s no one I’d rather have by my side through it all,” she posted. “I love you most, mom. always.”

Her sister is a singer too.

Some of her favorite actors and singers are praising Zegler’s casting and her voice.

Instagram/@rachelzegler

Within 24 hours of the news that Zegler was cast as Maria, a ton of Broadway celebs reached out to her congratulating her over the casting. She was clearly ecstatic. Talk about a life-changing moment.

Zegler’s acting abilities are also versatile.

Instagram/@rachelzegler

Here she is giving us her best Robert Downey Jr. Pretty solid reproduction of the actor’s facial hair.

Her social media is filled with videos of herself singing on camera.

Instagram/@rachelzegler

She sings in the bathroom, empty theaters, her room, just about anywhere. No matter where she is singing, one thing is clear, the girl has talent. No wonder she was cast to play Maria.

But if you’re curious about her incredible voice, just visit her YouTube page.

Youtube

It’s insanely good! She sings just about every song you can think of. Her covers give the songs new life and her voice is truly worthy of adding to one of the most iconic musicals of all time.

Her favorite though has to be Freddie Mercury.

Twitter

Her YouTube page features so amazing renditions of Queen songs from “Bohemian Rhapsody” to “Don’t Stop Me Now.” They are all worth a listen if you have the time.

See…everything she does is for Freddie.

Instagram/@zeglertweets

Yes, she plays the piano too. And the ukulele. Who knows where her career in entertainment will take her. Her talent seems endless right now and that is just part of that Latina excellence.

She also loves Disney-everything.

Instagram/@rachelzegler

Disney World is one of her favorite places on the planet. Then again, who doesn’t love to visit a Disney park and spend the day eating great food and riding every ride you can.

Zegler isn’t just good at singing and acting. She definitely will be modeling in no time.

Instagram/@rachelzegler

She’s so photogenic…simply gorgeous. Designers are probably already waiting for the chance to dress her.

She’s also already a huge influencer.

Instagram/@dresslikebway

Less than 24 hours since news broke that she would be playing Maria, people have been flocking to her social media, and her fashion sense is already popular.

Of course, people have already started creating fan pages for the new entertainer.

Instagram

People move fast. That’s the magic of the internet, right?

Zegler has been training for this moment since she was a little girl!

Instagram/@rachelzegler

She was literally born to be a star. “West Side Story” is set to begin filming this summer. We couldn’t be happier for Zegler. It is stories like this that keep smiles on people’s faces as they navigate this world. Good luck, chica! You’re going to be great. In the meantime, follow her on social and get to know her before she really blows up.


READ: One Rumor On Twitter Has The Internet Debating If Camila Cabello Can Act Well Enough To Be In ‘West Side Story’

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We Recast 'American Horror Story: Coven' With The Brujas We Wished Played The Roles

entertainment

We Recast ‘American Horror Story: Coven’ With The Brujas We Wished Played The Roles

American Horror Story: Coven / FX / sososophiola / Instagram

Latino representation on the television and in Hollywood isn’t great, let’s face it. When predominantly white actors and actresses steal the show for a show on brujería, however, that’s when you know something is up. We reimagined the critically acclaimed American Horror Story: Coven series with Latinas at the heart of the casting, and we are positive you’d want to see this all-star witch-cast with your Latin faves line-up.

Rosario Dawson as Cordelia Foxx, née Goode

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Imagine this glowing goddess as the reigning Supreme of the Coven! Dawson has shown her glory in action films like Unforgettable. Her uncanny ability to maintain an earthy charisma while being stern and even glamorous win her our top pick for Cordelia in the Bruja Remix of American Horror Story: Coven.

Amara La Negra as Zoe Benson

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Amara’s sweet pop-fueled innocent looks make her a natural to play the role of Zoe Benson, a member of the Witches’ Council and instructor at Miss Robichaux’s Academy. Amara’s classes would be one of the most important to sign up for! We would love to see her take the lead in this strange but breathtaking role.

Sofia Vergara as Myrtle Snow

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If we could pick anyone to play Myrtle Snow, it would be Sofia Vergara and her eccentric performance skills to take over the coven. As head of the Witches’ Council, she is the fashionable childless auntie supreme. Add a little Colombian flavor to that, and you’ve got the performance of a lifetime in haute couture.

Diego Boneta as Kyle Spencer

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We needed someone youthful and heartthrob-esque to take the role of the beautiful Kyle Spencer, the undead Louisiana boy who fell for Zoe before being killed with the rest of his fraternity. Boneta has skillfully played alongside Hillary Duff in Mexico and most notably played the starring role in the Luis Miguel biopic aired by Telemundo. Plus he was in Scream Queens so we know he understands the thriller/horror thing.

Salma Hayek as Misty Day

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Hayek’s sultry looks would make her the perfect choice to play Misty Day, the soulful witch from the swampy bayou. Misty’s power of resurgence, the magical ability to bring souls back from the dead, make it one of the most important brujas in the coven. Hayek would be killer for helping bring that which was once lost back to life.

Selena Gomez as Madison Montgomery

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Teenage party queen Madison Montgomery should be played by none other than the starlet Selena Gomez. Gomez has the adorable tiny-face to play a teenager character along with the range to play a telekinetic witch who could plot revenge on dozens of people at once. Bonus: Gomez, like Madison, grew up a child star and would play to character perfectly.

Danny Trejo as Spalding

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The convict turned Hollywood actor Danny Trejo would make a fantastic Latino-flavored Spalding for this Latino recast. The mysterious butler is missing his tongue, so we wouldn’t get the chance to hear Danny’s magnificent accent, but the chance to see some real cholo representation in the elderly world is too much to pass up.

Ivonne Coll as Delphine LaLaurie

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It’s hard to imagine Coll, the abuela from “Jane the Virgin” as a monster who tortured people but her humor is what we are focusing on. She is a funny actress and we loved laughing at LaLaurie as she tried to get out of her cage and wailed about being treated like dirt.

Raquel Welch as Fiona Goode

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Raquel Welch made her career as one of the sexiest women in Hollywood history, and we think her aging beauty queen aesthetic would be prime material to play Fiona Goode. Fiona, Cordelia’s late mother and former Supreme of the Coven, spends her life jet setting and hobnobbing with celebrities. She fears no one and is prepared to do what it takes to live forever, as long as she looks young and beautiful doing it.

Sophia Pineda as Nan

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Sophia Pineda, a well-regarded teenage painter, could easily cross-over to on-screen art to play Nan. Sophia, who like Nan has Down Syndrome, represents the youth and rigor of the character who refuses to be underestimated. Nan posses the power to control people’s minds and move inanimate objects without touching them.

Gina Torres as Marie Laveau

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In truth, we struggle to have anyone ever replace Angela Bassett for the role of Marie Laveau, but for the purposes of this thought experiment, we’ll daydream Gina Torres in her place. Marie is the legendary former Voodoo Quen of New Orleans, and she represents the equivalent of the Supreme in her form of magic, Voodoo. She runs the rival gang to the witch coven and is ready to defend her territory should anyone try to cross her.

The Kid Mero as Papa Legba

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Can you imagine the comedian and Twitter star Kid Mero as the shadowy gatekeeper of the spirit world? We certainly can. His trickster personality would fit the role perfectly, and even if he were a bit funnier than the original, we’d need it to lighten the very dark show a bit. Just imagining the Kid Mero awkwardly taking someone’s soul away because they missed his joke is enough to make us crave this recast as badly as ever – maybe not enough to sell our soul but close.

Rita Moreno as Anna Leigh Leighton

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Could our beloved Rita Moreno play one of the oldest Supremes seen on the show? We think so! Anna Leigh Leighton is supposed to be the Supreme who reigned before Fiona Goode. Goode, who’s diplomacy lead to truce agreement between the coven and Marie Laveau, was taken out by a power-hungry Fiona Goode

Cardi B as Kaylee

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Who said Cardi B wasn’t fuego? There’s no one better than her to play Kaylee, the young pyrokinetic witch that can set things on fire with the power of her mind. Imagine her turning down the chance to join the coven with her characteristic “Okkkkkrrrrrrr!”

Jennifer Lopez as Joan Ramsey

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Jennifer Lopez could make being bad look so good. That’s why she’s our pick to play Joan Ramsey, the evangelical, fervent Christian who lives next to the Academy with her son. Imagining J.Lo peeking over her fence to see what the bad witches of the coven are up to is inspiring to say the least.

Javier Bardem as Louis LaLaurie

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Javier Bardem would play excellently as the damning husband of Delphine, Louis LaLaurie. Javier’s previous roles as an evil pirate in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales and the villain in No Country for Old Men have poises him to be a deliciously evil bad guy we love to loathe.

Paula Garcés as Pauline LaLaurie

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Garcés’ youthful, mean-girl looks would make her the perfect person to play Delphine’s youngest daughter, Pauline. Pauline is a brutal villain and we’d like to see someone like Paula try out her bad side with this character.

Kid Cudi as Bastien

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Scott Ramon Seguro Mescudi – more commonly known as Kid Cudi – would make a lovely Bastien. The tragic lover of Marie who is turned into a Minotaur, Kid Cudi’s Afro-Latino background would fit perfectly into Bastien’s ill-fated storyline.

Gael García Bernal as Hank Foxx

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Who better to play Cordelia’s two-faced husband, Hank Foxx, than Gael García Bernal?  García Bernal is handsome and believable as a loving husband but has the skills necessary to play a charmer with a secret dark side. We root yes on this one.

Yesenia Guadalupe as Queenie

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Instagram phat-fashion model Yesenia Guadalupe would give us serious big girl feels if she got the chance to play Queenie. Her mesmerizing photogenic personality alongside her style would give her the boost we need to make this all-star cast exactly what brujas want.


READ: ‘Y Soy Rebelde’: We Recast The Popular Show With Today’s Latino Stars

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