Entertainment

The Key Roles For ‘West Side Story’ Have Been Cast And Maria Is Being Played By A Latina

Broadway and “West Side Story” fans have been waiting for the announcement of who will be playing the key roles in Steven Spielberg’s remake of the classic. The wait is over and we now know who will be on the big screen as Maria, Anita, Bernardo, and Chino. Everyone can rest easy because all of the actors taking up these roles are, in fact, Latino giving the remake a little more authenticity than the original. Ansel Elgort will play Tony. Here’s what we know so far.

High school senior Rachel Zegler landed the lead role of Maria.

CREDIT: rachelzegler / Instagram

Zegler is a high school senior at Immaculate Conception High School in Lodi, New Jersey. The teenager was a viral sensation with her singing videos on social media.

According to Deadline, Spielberg was intentional in making sure the everyone cast in the movie was Latino or Latina to showcase the talent within the Latino community.

Zegler shared her excitement on Twitter because who wouldn’t be excited to be cast as Maria.

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

Broadway veteran and powerhouse Ariana DeBose will play Anita.

CREDIT: arianadebose / Instagram

The Puerto Rican performer first made a name for herself on “So You Think You Can Dance” when she made it to the Top 20 in 2009. Since then, DeBose has been performing for theaters around the country and even performed in an off-Broadway production of “Hamilton.”

Oh, and Rita Moreno will be there to “pass the baton” to the new Maria.

Can you even believe it? Moreno is going to be in Spielberg’s “West Side Story” in the role of Valentina. Valentina will be a more expanded version of Doc who owns the store that Tony works in.

Tony Award winner David Alvarez has been cast as Bernardo, Maria’s cousin.

CREDIT: davidalvarezofficial / Instagram

The military veteran won his Tony for Best Actor in a Musical for his role in “Billy Elliott: The Musical”. He told Deadline that he sees the same struggle in Bernardo as he does in his family who fled Cuba for the U.S. and has dreamt of filling this role.

Jose Andrés Rivera is going to be playing Chino.

CREDIT: joseandresrivera / Instagram

The Puerto Rican dancer, singer, and actor is most known for his recent participation on the last national Hamilton tour.

There is no release date for the movie yet but it is expected to start filming this summer.


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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Lil Nas X’s Next Big Drop Is A Children’s Book Called ‘C Is For Country’

Entertainment

Lil Nas X’s Next Big Drop Is A Children’s Book Called ‘C Is For Country’

Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty

Turns out Lil Nas X has more than just country rap up his sleeve. The 21-year-old “Old Town Road” rapper has a penchant for literature too.

On Tuesday, the rapper revealed that he’s written a children’s book called C Is for Country.

“I’m dropping the best kids’ book of all time soon!” the rapper shared in a Tweet earlier this week before adding that he couldn’t “wait to share it” with his fans and young readers.

Nas’s children’s book is being published under Random House Kids, a division of Penguin Random House. It is currently available for preorder on their site.

According to the Random House Kids’ website, the book is a story about Lil Nas X and Panini the pony.

“Join superstar Lil Nas X—who boasts the longest-running #1 song in history—and Panini the pony on a joyous journey through the alphabet from sunup to sundown. Experience wide-open pastures, farm animals, guitar music, cowboy hats, and all things country in this debut picture book that’s perfect for music lovers learning their ABCs and for anyone who loves Nas’s signature genre-blending style,” Random House describes in its explanation.

The book is illustrated by Theodore Taylor III and promises “plenty of hidden surprises for Nas’ biggest fans.”

C Is for County comes out Jan. 5.

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Netflix’s Newest Musical Teen Hit Series Stars a 16-Year-Old Afro-Latina Newcomer

Entertainment

Netflix’s Newest Musical Teen Hit Series Stars a 16-Year-Old Afro-Latina Newcomer

A new teen series has dropped on Netflix that the internet can’t stop talking about. The newest cultural phenomenon that has hit the juggernaut streaming service is a musical series called Julie and the Phantoms, based on the 2011 Brazilian show of the same name.

The series follows a 16-year-old insecure girl named Julie who has lost her love of music after the tragic death of her mother. But with the help of a (stay with us here) band of musical ghosts she stumbles across in her garage, she soon re-discovers her love of singing and performing. Backed by her band of “phantoms”, Julie confidently takes the stage again, blowing everyone away in the process. ,

But the wacky, heartfelt story-line isn’t the only reason people are excited about the show. The buzz around the show is building because its star, 16-year-old newcomer Madison Reyes, is an Afro-Latina singer-actress of Puerto Rican descent.

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Before landing the role of Julie, Reyes was just a regular shmegular Nuyorican girl going to high school in Brooklyn. Needless to say, the process of auditioning for Julie and the Phantoms was both a whirlwind and a game-changer.

“I found out about Julie and the Phantoms through my school. At first I was nervous to send my video in, but after talking to some friends, I sent it in and got a call back,” Reyes told Refinery 29. “From there it was just figuring out when I could fly to L.A. When I finally made it out there, the audition process lasted two days.”

Reyes, for one, understands the burden of her load. “[Julie] is Latin American, she’s got textured hair, she’s a strong and independent female character,” Reyes recently told the LA Times. “As a person of color who wants more diversity [on-screen], I’m kind of scared about the hate comments that I’ve seen other people have to go through, especially women.”

As if having an Afro-Latina actress at the center of a popular Netflix show wasn’t exciting enough, the series is also being helmed by Mexican-American director and all-around legend Kenny Ortega. For those of you unfamiliar with Ortega, he is the creative genius who directed bonafide classics like High School Musical and Hocus Pocus.

Ortega has been publicly effusive in his praise of Reyes. “She has this raw talent that can take on any genre of music, and this promise of greatness that excited everybody,” he told the LA Times. “And yet she’s so relatable and grounded.”

Fans are already calling for a second season after watching the cliffhanger season finale. Reyes, herself, can’t wait to get back in the shoes of Julie. When asked in an interview about where we’ll see her next, she responded: “Hopefully in the next season of Julie and the Phantoms!”. We second that wish.

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