Ladies AND Gents, this is Why Rita Moreno is Important

“[Rita Moreno] is still a leading lady of her era, a trailblazer with courage to break through barriers and forge new paths,” President Barack Obama said the same day the actress was awarded with the Kennedy Center Honor, the highest award for lifetime achievement in the arts.

It was probably the only award missing on her mantel since Moreno is one of the few people who have received a Tony, Grammy, Emmy and an Oscar — she won the latter for her role as Anita in the West Side Story. Now she joins Placido Domingo, Carlos Santana, Martina Arroyo, Chita Rivera as one of only five Latinos who have received the Kennedy award.

Many actors joined her in the celebration, including those who say she was an example and opened many doors for Latinos in the arts, like Rosie Perez who said: “She was herself. She celebrated her heritage but did not stereotype it.”

READ: 11 Iconic Movies that Make Your Heart Burst With Latino Pride

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