Rachel Zegler’s ‘West Side Story’ Casting Story Is Legit Amazing

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Rachel Zegler’s ‘West Side Story’ Casting Story Is Legit Amazing
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If you don’t already know who Rachel Zegler is, get ready because she’s wildly talented and about to be literally everywhere. Rachel is starring as Maria in Steven Spielberg’s upcoming West Side Story retelling, and her career is blowing up as a result. As in, she casually pivoted from high school musicals to red carpets—and now she’s set to star in a Disney movie *and* a Marvel sequel.

Clearly, the time has come to learn everything about your new fave, so behold: a bunch of fast facts to get you primed for Rachel’s 2021/2022 red carpet takeover.

Her Casting Story for West Side Story Is So Cool

Rachel, who is Colombian American, told Town & Country that she responded to an open call for Latina actresses between the ages of 15 and 25—which her friend just happened to send her way along with a note reading, “Thank me when you’re famous.”

She ended up sending in a video of herself singing the classic song “I Feel Pretty” to WestSideStoryCastingSearch@gmail.com, booked the job, and—after wrapping up her school production of Shrek the Musical—started working with Spielberg. Again, super casual!!!!

She ~Broke Protocol~ When She Got the Part

Rachel says she found out she booked the role of Maria on January 9, 2019, and she wasn’t allowed to let anyone know. But remember that friend who encouraged her to audition? Rachel obviously went ahead and spilled to her, joking, “I definitely broke protocol and told her immediately.”

She Was (Is!) a Total Theater Kid

Twenty-year-old Rachel grew up in Clifton, New Jersey, and was a theater nerd who loved Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Lady Gaga, and Ariana Grande. She played volleyball and saxophone, had a photo of Rita Moreno in her locker, and recorded versions of popular songs for her YouTube channel. And yes, the channel is still very much active! In fact, Rachel’s old videos pre–West Side Story are still up, including her cover of “Shallow,” which has more than 3 million views.

Also, check out her iconic Shrek the Musical vlog:

She’s Playing Snow White Next

Rachel booked Disney’s most iconic princess for the House of Mouse’s latest live-action retelling, which is !!! so amazing. Director Marc Webb told Deadline that “Rachel’s extraordinary vocal abilities are just the beginning of her gifts. Her strength, intelligence, and optimism will become an integral part of rediscovering the joy in this classic Disney fairy tale.”

Oh, and she’s also starring in the new Shazam!

Literally can’t wait.

Singing “I Feel Pretty” Was Super Important to Her

Rachel explained to Vogue that West Side Story is “a beautiful display of Latin joy and the way that young Latin girls deserve to see themselves—dancing around in pretty dresses and singing about loving themselves. It’s something that’s mattered so much to me, being Latina—singing ‘I Feel Pretty’ and meaning it. I hope that young people everywhere will know that their features are gorgeous and their culture is beautiful. I think that’s what it’s meant to my family. They know that it’s going to happen.”

She Just Dropped Her First Single

It came out this past May, and honestly, we can’t wait for her whole album.

She Made Her Met Gala Debut This Year

I mean…stunning:

Photo credit: Jeff Kravitz - Getty Images
Photo credit: Jeff Kravitz - Getty Images

More photos, you ask? Here ya go:

You can check out Rachel in West Side Story when it hits theaters on December 10, which gives you just about two months to learn all the songs by heart in preparation.

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