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January 15, 2019

Steven Spielberg just cast this New Jersey teen as Maria in his 'West Side Story' remake

Rachel Zegler, 17, of Clifton, will make her film debut

Movies Steven Spielberg
Steven Spielberg Anthony Behar//Sipa USA

Filmmaker Steven Spielberg attends the 2018 Arthur Miller Foundation Honors at City Winery in New York on October 22, 2018.

The cast list for Steven Spielberg's remake of "West Side Story" was released this week and it includes a 17-year-old New Jersey high schooler as Maria.

Her name is Rachel Zegler, and she will make her film debut alongside Ansel Elgort, who plays Tony; Rita Moreno (who won an Oscar for her original portrayal of Anita in 1961) as Valentina; Ariana DeBose as Anita; and David Alvarez as Bernardo. 


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The film began casting back in January 2018, when they asked hopefuls from all around the world to submit videos online. 

Zegler, who is Columbian-American and from Clifton, New Jersey, said she saw the notice on Twitter and submitted videos of herself singing "Tonight" and "Me Siento Hermosa," or "I Feel Pretty," according to Deadline. 

View this post on Instagram

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’. i send a huge thank you to everyone who helped make this incredible dream a reality— i never could’ve done it alone. i am so honored to join the legendary @TheRitaMoreno, @ansel, @arianadebose, @davidalvarezofficial, @joshandresrivera and more in telling this impeccably poignant story. as a colombian-american woman growing up in this day and age, strong roles like maria are so important. to be able to bring that role to life— a role that means so much to the hispanic community— is so humbling. i hope you’re all as excited as i am. ♥️✨

A post shared by rachel zegler (@rachelzegler) on

"West Side Story" will be produced and directed by Spielberg and will be adapted from the original 1957 Broadway musical. 

Filming will begin this summer.


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