An unknown New Jersey teen has emerged to land the lead role in Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story reboot, NJ.com reports. The director announced Monday that Rachel Zegler, 17, of Clifton, will play Maria in the reboot of the classic Broadway musical and Academy Award-winning film. “When I played Maria on stage a few summers ago, I never could have imagined that i’d be taking on the role again in Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story,” Zegler wrote on Instagram Monday. “I send a huge thank you to everyone who helped make this incredible dream a reality... As a Colombian-American woman growing up in this day and age, strong roles like Maria are so important.” Broadway stars Ariana DeBose and David Alvarez will play Anita and Bernardo in the film, respectively. Josh Andrés Rivera has been cast as Chino. According to NJ.com, Zegler first played Maria in a Performing Arts School presentation of West Side Story at BergenPAC in 2017. She submitted videos of her singing “Tonight” and “Me Siento Hermosa” (“I Feel Pretty”) as part of her audition. Spielberg said Monday that he always intended to cast the roles of Maria as well as Anita, Bernardo, Chino, and the Sharks with Latina and Latino actors. “I’m so happy that we’ve assembled a cast that reflects the astonishing depth of talent in America’s multifaceted Hispanic community,” he said.
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