entertainment

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

rachelzegler / Instagram

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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San Antonio Fans Got Treated To J.Lo Singing ‘Si Una Vez’ And We Have Serious FOMO

Entertainment

San Antonio Fans Got Treated To J.Lo Singing ‘Si Una Vez’ And We Have Serious FOMO

Discover Laredo / YouTube

Jennifer Lopez arguably became a household name after she portrayed Selena in the biopic about the iconic Mexican-American singer. Since then, J.Lo has become a musical, acting, and producing force in the entertainment industry. Now, at 50, the Puerto Rican superstar is on a new tour and fans in San Antonio were treated to a special cover when she belted out “Si Una Vez” by Texas legend Selena Quintanilla.

J.Lo really showed up for her San Antonio audience with her “Si Una Vez” song after admitting it was her favorite.

At the beginning of the video, J.Lo asks the audience if they want to hear a little Selena. Like, what kind of question is that to ask a Texas audience? Of course, they want to hear some Selena. After asking the crowd which song would be best she told them that “Si Una Vez” is her favorite and that sent the crowd into a frenzy.

Fans were so excited to learn J.Lo’s favorite Selena song because we all have one.

Finding someone with the same favorite Selena song as you is so amazing. Legit, one of the most telling signs of how long your friendship and relationship will last is the Selena test. Do they know who Selena is? Do they like her music? Do you have the same favorite Selena song? This is crucial

Seeing the woman who brought Selena to the big screen was one of the most touching moments for so many people.

Credit: @delunz21 / Twitter

Hearts fluttered. Angels got wings. Moods were lifted. It was a physical moment for so many people who could feel the love from the stage. It was as if Selena was on stage in J.Lo’s body giving us the concert we have been craving.

While all of the concertgoers were melting down, social media people also lost their minds over the cover.

Credit: @TickleMe_Elma / Twitter

It’s like Thalía taking time during her concert to give the fans a taste of Jenni Rivera. Who wouldn’t want to be there for that moment? It feels like a special connection between the singer and the audience as they give praise and attention to a shared icon.

This is one way to ring in your 50th birthday, J.Lo.

Credit: @cruzjay05 / Twitter

There is one thing everyone knows for sure, J.Lo is a force that cannot be overlooked. She is a strong and powerful singer. A recognizable actor. A successful producer. But, most importantly, she is a Selena fan who gives the Tejano singer the respect and love she deserves.

Watch the full performance below.

Thank you, J.Lo. You know how to make your shows something to remember.

READ: 9 Selena Covers That Prove She Will Always Be La Reina

Tessa Thompson’s Latest Instagram Is A Tribute To A Girl Who Could Not Wait To Get Her Picture At The ‘MIB’ Premiere

Entertainment

Tessa Thompson’s Latest Instagram Is A Tribute To A Girl Who Could Not Wait To Get Her Picture At The ‘MIB’ Premiere

When the original “Men In Black” premiered in 1997, there’s no denying it was a mega box office hit. In fact, we’re a bit more surprised that it took this long for there to be another installation to the franchise. Now, 22 years later, the new version, fittingly titled, “Men In Black: International” the film is more inclusive, which is certainly appreciated in this day and age.

It’s because of this diverse representation that Latinas can see themselves on the big screen.

Last week, during the “Men In Black” premiere Tessa Thompson spotted a little girl who was dressed just like her in the movie.

Instagram/@tessamaethompson

Thompson recounted the moment on Instagram and discussed how much she’s been through with the filming of the movie and doing press all over the world. She said it was this moment that meant so much to her.

“These past couple weeks have been almost a blur— except, my favorite moment of all— meeting the one person I really made @meninblack for. Hers was the first face I saw when I arrived to the premiere— and it’s still on my mind. And what she said to me, I’ll never forget.”

This moment really signifies why representation matters so much.

Instagram/@tessamaethompson

People seem to forget how many others are excluded when we see a movie or TV show, so when you see a person that looks like you starring in a massive project, it’s an encouraging thing that means to so many. Now we’re wondering what that little girl said to her. Please tell us, Tessa!

Thompson’s role in the new “Men In Black” also came with a couple of changes including something she didn’t want to say just because Will Smith said it in the original.

Instagram/@tessamaethompson

Thompson said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter that she didn’t want the new movie to be too much like the old one, which makes sense especially because this is 2019! We don’t need to regress to 1997.

In the original movie, Smith says “I make this look good” after he first puts on his suit. Thompson said she would never say that line.

“I wouldn’t have said it. In fact, I think someone did ask me to — just as an option — and I said no. M [her character] is just different from that character [Agent J/Smith]. Yeah, I was really conscious of too much nostalgia. Also, inside of that, there were moments when I thought, ‘Let’s lean in.'”

Yes!! That is why we need more women of color in movies!

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