West Side Story: Steven Spielberg casts 17-year-old student as Maria

‘West Side Story’ Remake Casts Newcomer as Maria

According to Zegler's YouTube channel, she is a self-professed "theatre kid" who works as a wedding singer and has performed in starring roles in onstage productions like "Beauty and the Beast", "The Little Mermaid", "Thoroughly Modern Millie" and others.

Deadline reports that 17-year-old New Jersey high school student Rachel Zegler will make her film debut in the musical as Maria across from Ansel Elgort's Tony. In the new film, Moreno will take on the role of Valentina, a reimagined version of Tony's boss, Doc, and she will also executive produce.

'West Side Story was the first musical I encountered with a Latina lead character.

She answered an open casting call for West Side Story, with a video in which she sang Tonight and Me Siento Hermosa from the musical.

"I am in awe of the sheer force of the talent of these young performers, and I believe they'll bring a new and electrifying energy to a magnificent musical that's more relevant than ever", he added.

"I am so thrilled to be playing the iconic role of Maria alongside this unbelievable cast", Zegler told the Hollywood Reporter.

Zegler found Internet fame a year ago when a video of her singing 'Shallow' from A Star is Born went viral on Twitter, gaining 7.63 million views. Award-winning Broadway actress Ariana DeBose has been cast as Anita and David Alvarez as Bernardo, Maria's brother and the leader of the Sharks.

She tweeted alongside a story of the cast announcement: "It's official!"

Zegler wrote, "As a Colombian-American woman growing up in this day and age, strong roles like Maria are so important".

The cast joins the previously announced Rita Moreno, who originally played Anita in 1961's West Side Story. The play was inspired by William Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" and set in a NY neighborhood and focused on the rivalry between two gangs.

Speaking about landing the role Rachel said she is thrilled to be playing the iconic role.

With music and lyrics by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim, the movie won ten Oscars, including Best Picture.

It's not just any film, either - the upcoming adaptation is being helmed by none other than Steven Spielberg, who put out an open casting call for Latinx actors past year.

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