His name is little known to the general public. And yet the young actress Rachel Zegler has been chosen by Steven Spielberg to play the legendary role of Maria in the musical “West Side Story”, which hits theaters this Wednesday, December 8.
From a Colombian mother and a Polish father, the young woman, aged 20, was selected from among more than 30,000 candidates to play the title role when she had never set foot on a film set.
In addition to her acting skills, Rachel is blessed with an impressive crystal-clear voice which has also earned her being selected for several local musicals productions in New Jersey, where she is from.
Passionate about musicals since her childhood, the young woman made her debut on the boards in high school and was nominated four times for the Metro Awards, trophies which reward the performances of high school students in her region.
Since 2015, Rachel Zegler has been very active on Youtube, a platform on which she shares numerous covers – from Sia to Taylor Swift – but also her own compositions.
In 2018, when she was in her last year of high school, she posted a video in which she performed the song “Shallow” from A Star is Born. Since then, the footage has been viewed over 3 million times.
“Rachel is amazing. She arrived on this huge set without having ever made a film before. She was surrounded by great people and talented actors with a lot more experience than she did, ”said Steven Spielberg.
“She watched, she listened, she learned with amazing speed, but she also brought with her that mysterious quality of being born to do what they do. His Maria is a revelation, ”continued the filmmaker.
chosen by Disney to play Snow White
After passing the casting for “West Side Story,” Rachel Zegler was also chosen by Disney to play Snow White, in the live-action version of the famous 1937 cartoon.
“Rachel’s extraordinary vocal abilities are only one aspect of her talent,” said Marc Webb, future director of the new version of “Snow White”, quoted in a message sent to AFP by a spokesperson for Disney.
“His strength, intelligence and optimism will become an integral part of this rediscovery of the joy of the classic Disney fairy tale”, added the one who notably directed two parts of the Spider-Man saga, “The Amazing Spider-Man “(2012) and” The Amazing Spider-Man: A Hero’s Fate “(2014).
Production on the film is set to begin in 2022, Disney said. “Snow White” is an adaptation of a tale by the Brothers Grimm, two German linguists who published the first version in 1812.
The choice of a Métis actress to play the one who was, in 1937, Disney’s first film heroine, is a new sign of inflection for the studio, long accused of choosing mainly white main characters.
Viewers will also find Rachel Zegler in 2023 in “Shazam! Fury of the Gods ”, sequel to the DC Comics film“ Shazam! ”.