High school is the absolute worst. Unless you get cast as the lead role in a Steven Spielberg film that is sure to be a huge box office hit and will catapult you into stardom. Then it’s probably kind of fun. Well, 17 year old Rachel Zegler is about to see the bright lights of Hollywood as she has been officially cast as Maria in the upcoming remake of West Side Story.
After a nationwide search that auditioned over 30,000 hopefuls, Spielberg finally chose Zegler as his leading lady. Spielberg has spent the last few months speaking with Hispanic heritage and advocacy groups as well as professors and students from the University of Puerto Rico to learn about the country’s performing arts. When casting first began, Spielberg made a public vow to cast the roles of Maria, Anita, Bernardo, Chino and the Sharks with Latinx actors. Thankfully, Zegler is Colombian-American because she is going to make an amazing Maria…you will see why momentarily.
Zegler auditioned back in January 2018 with the songs “Tonight” and “Me Siento Hermosa” (“I Feel Pretty”). Now I can’t type another thing until you listen to this girl wail.
someone: you use autotune😤😤😤😤
— rachel zegler (@rachelzegler) December 14, 2018
On being cast Zegler told Deadline:
“I am so thrilled to be playing the iconic role of Maria alongside this amazing cast. 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.”
Zegler joins Ariana DeBose, David Alvarez, Josh Andrés Rivera, and Rita Moreno who play Anita, Bernardo, Chino and Valentina respectively. Filming is slated to start in the summer of 2019.