Maria plays the role in Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story remake. But Rachel Zegler, a newcomer to the film industry was just a high school student and had no experience with films.
The American actress, from New Jersey, who was cast alongside Ansel Elgort as Tony, landed the coveted role after submitting a video of herself singing one of the 1957 musical’s most well-known songs, I Feel Pretty, in Spanish to producers.
Rachel, 20, was chosen from 30,000 applicants after responding to a casting call on social media for Latino and Latina actors in January 2018.
Before finding fame, Rachel, whose mother Gina is Colombian and construction worker father is Polish, worked as a part-time wedding singer and was an honor roll student.
But now, having been hailed as the ‘perfect’ Maria, the award-winning actress appears to be set to become a firm favorite in Hollywood – with Disney casting her as Snow White in its new live-action adaptation.
And even the late composer Stephen Sondheim said she sang ‘like a nightingale’ – and yet Rachel has admitted she is still having trouble believing all the hype and that her overnight rise to fame has left her struggling with ‘a lot of imposter syndrome’.
Maria is the role she plays in Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story remake. But Rachel Zegler, pictured (pictured), was just a high school student without any film experience.
Yesterday’s photograph shows the American actress, from New Jersey. After sending a video of herself performing I Feel Pretty in Spanish, she was offered the role.
Rachel, 20, is pictured in West Side Story. She was one of 30,000 candidates who responded to an open casting call via social media in January 2018.
In August 2021, Rachel told Town & Country about her battle with imposter syndrome – which is the belief that one’s own success in life isn’t deserved or has been achieved through luck, rather than as a result of one’s own efforts or skills.
‘I haven’t done any other film projects, but I’m constantly pinching myself – there’s no way this is my life,’ she said. “This comes with much gratitude but also a lot anxiety and impostor syndrome.
Rachel always wanted fame. However, she pictured a Tony Award instead of a Hollywood blockbuster as a child growing up in Clifton New Jersey.
Her first performance was at 12 in a Fiddler on the Roof. At 14, she auditioned for Rock of Ages on Broadway.
High school she was a volleyball player and a saxophone player, but her passion for musical theater led to the playing of Maria in West Side Story.
Rachel, whose Colombian mother Gina and Polish father are construction workers, was a part time wedding singer before she became famous. She also attended honors college.
Rachel is an honors student and lives with her parents Craig, Gina, and Jacquelin, 20 years old, in Clifton.
She learned that she had been cast as Maria in the remake in 2021. But she first starred in the role of Fiona at Immaculate Conception High School’s Shrek the Musical production in March 2019.
She was 17 years old when she performed her last show and was now at West Side Story’s first rehearsal.
She was nervous the night before filming her first day, even after having rehearsed for two months.
“I sent a message [a friend]: “I think I’m going to vomit. I’ll check back with you later.” I couldn’t sleep and could not do anything. She said, “I was terrified.”
Although it is yet to be released Rachel has played many more roles. She currently lives in Atlanta and films Shazam! Fury of the Gods, Helen Mirren and Lucy Liu The
‘I do have moments when I’m like, “I am worthy, and I got this job for a reason,”‘ Rachel said. Then it quickly fades into “Oh, god, Helen Mirren!”
Speaking about her part as Maria after the casting had been announced, Rachel said in a statement: ‘I am so thrilled to be playing the iconic role of Maria alongside this amazing cast.’
On Instagram, she also shared the following: “When I was playing Maria on stage some summers back, I couldn’t have imagined that I would be reprising my role in Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story.”
As a Colombian American girl growing up today, Maria and strong roles such as hers are crucial.
“It is so humble to be able bring this role to life, a role that has so many meanings to the Hispanic Community.
Rachel’s video singing Lady Gaga’s “A Star is Born, Shallow” became viral for the first time in 2018. This video has been viewed almost 500k times.
Spielberg stated that only Latinas and Latino actors would be cast for Puerto Rican roles. Its predominantly white cast of Hispanic actors was criticized in the original film.
The actress, who has been called the perfect Maria in her role, is now set to make a name for herself in Hollywood. Disney will cast her in their new live-action movie adaptation of Snow White.
Stephen Sondheim even said Rachel sings ‘like nightingales’. Rachel (pictured November) admits that she struggles to believe all of the hype, and that her rapid rise in fame over the past few years has caused her to have ‘a lot’ of “imposter syndrome”.
Deadline previously reported that he was happy to have assembled a cast that represents America’s diverse Hispanic community.
“I’m in awe at the power and talent these young performers possess, and I think they will bring an electrifying energy and new life to a musical that is more pertinent than ever.”
Rachel is still trying to cope with all the attention she gets despite her talent.
Interview with ELLE Magazine: The performer, aged 20, talks about her role in the dramatic, life-altering part at high school. She also discusses meeting Stephen Sondheim the legendary actor and how it helped him fight racist trolls following his portrayal of Snow White.
In August 2021, Rachel (pictured) told Town & Country about her battle with imposter syndrome – which is the belief that one’s own success in life isn’t deserved or has been achieved through luck, rather than as a result of one’s own efforts or skills
‘I haven’t done any other film projects, but I’m constantly pinching myself – there’s no way this is my life,’ Rachel (pictured) said. “That is a time of great gratitude, anxiety, and impostor syndrome.
Rachel shared her feelings with composer Sondheim after she died at the age of 91.
“I just fell to my knees beside him instinctually. “I have heard your songs on YouTube,” he said. It’s like you were a nightingale. It was like a nightingale. Completely, no. Absolutely not.”
However, she’s already faced negativity early on in her career, after it was revealed she had been cast as Snow White in Disney’s new live-action adaptation of the classic, expected in 2023.
Rachel took to the social media platform to celebrate the news, and she retorted at some of those who doubted her portrayal as the historically black character.
In a now-deleted Tweet, she stated that “Yes, I am white” and not that she was bleaching her skin to play the part.
She addresses the backlash by telling ELLE, “These are a bunch faceless people that I’ll never meet in my real life.”
They will not have the courage to stand up to you at Starbucks and tell you, “You aren’t white enough to play Snow White.” But, I do have a responsibility for the young people of the future. [can]Say, “This Latina could play Snow White. I can do everything.”
Marc Webb is the director of Snow White’s adaptation. He said Rachel’s intelligence, strength, and optimism make her the perfect choice for this iconic role.
He stated that Rachel’s vocal talents are only the tip of her talent in a statement sent to AFP.
Her intelligence, optimism and strength will all be integral to rediscovering the magic of this Disney classic fairytale.
Rachel celebrated Rachel’s news on social media. She called it a ‘dream fulfilled’. She wrote, “Well… Hello to a Dream Come True,” on Instagram.
The production on Disney’s untitled Snow White movie is set to start next year. Disney promises to “expand upon [the story] and music of the original.”
Since 2016, the remake was in development. The queen and prince have yet to be cast while Benj Pasek and Justin Paul have been brought on board to write new songs for the movie.
Paul and Pasek collaborated on several blockbuster movies, including “La La Land”, “The Greatest Showman”, and “Dear Evan Hansen.”
Remakes of classic movie songs, including “Heigh-Ho”, “Someday My Prince Will Come” and “Whistle While you Work” are likely to be featured.
The original animated Disney film first hit theaters 69 years ago back in 1937, telling the Brothers Grimm fairytale of a princess given a poison apple by her wicked stepmother.
This film became a big hit, and Walt Disney won an honorary Oscar at 1939’s 11th Academy Awards.
Rachel spoke with ELLE to talk about West Side Story’s pride that Latino actors are playing the roles.
It’s an affirmation of the diversity that makes us all so proud to have so many Latine stars in this film.
“That is the main point of this story. We all come from different backgrounds and have our own stories, conversations, upbringings. And what do we bring to the table if we can’t talk to each other about it?’
Rachel was discovered by Spielberg on day one of casting. She quickly made a name for herself at school as “the girl who got it.”
Her principal said, “You could come to my office whenever it’s necessary just to take deep breaths,” which was quite overwhelming.
Rachel stated that Rachel had decided that high school was something she would be able “to survive and not love”.
E.T. The E.T. director heaped praises on Rachel and revealed that he was moved by Rachel’s singing.
“When she started singing” [Tonight] live, it was just, tears,’ he told Entertainment Tonight recently. It wasn’t just me. Everyone around me is in tears. This is amazing to see.
He motioned to his gut, saying, “All that Rachel sings is from inside.” This is only a gateway. The real journey begins within.
It hasn’t been easy for Ansel Elgort on West Side Story. Her ‘fans’ called her a homewrecker shortly after the film wrapped.
Even the star took a break on Twitter following trolls who attacked her young star.
Her comments were made after Ansel had told The Sunday Times of his desire to have non-sexual relationships beyond Violetta Komyshan, his high school sweetheart. Fans called Rachel out and suggested that Rachel’s timing was off.
Rachel had wrote in October 2019: ‘There really aren’t enough words to describe the pride I have in Ansel’s growth and beauty and literal magic he possesses on screen and off. It was simple to fall in love with him. “Happy wrap mi amor, see ya soon on a fire escape.”
She wrote later, “The internet has caused me to be upset” before taking a break from social media.
Before deleting the post, she added that “The fact I must say something is absolutely absurd”, and that it was “heartbreaking” that she was being called an ‘homewrecker”.
Already, the future looks promising for the actress. She will make the jump to superhero territory for her next movie, playing an unknown role in Shazam Fury of the Gods. It is scheduled for release June 2, 2023.
‘[It]ELLE tells her that this is “the greatest cast of all times.” “I’ve never met such a caring group of people.” They have made me dependent upon them for my happiness. It will be very difficult to let it go.
Rachel won her first film role in West Side Story’s remake and received rave reviews. She also earned her first Oscar.
On Thursday, the National Board of Review named the star Best Actress. This is one of the key indicators of awards season.
Thank you, @NBRFilm. Zegler’s tweet on Thursday afternoon, “Thank you @NBRFilm,” received more than 2,000 likes.