Who Is Rachel Zegler? Meet ‘West Side Story’s Breakout Star (It’s Her Debut Role, Too!)
Who plays Maria in the new West Side Story? Meet breakout actress Rachel Zegler.
The Steven Spielberg-directed film, which hit theaters Dec. 10, marks Zegler's professional acting debut. The legendary director held an open casting call on Twitter for the role, and Spielberg selected Zegler out of over 30,000 applicants. Zegler was just 16 years old when she auditioned by singing "I Feel Pretty" and "Tonight."
"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, now 20, wrote on Instagram. "I send a huge thank you to everyone who helped make this incredible dream a reality — I never could’ve done it alone."
Prior to landing one of the most coveted acting roles of the year, Zegler grew up in Clifton, New Jersey. She attended the college preparatory academy Immaculate Conception High School. During her time in school, she starred in the high school's musicals for all four years. Her roles included Belle in Beauty and the Beast, Ariel in The Little Mermaid, Dorothy Brock in 42nd Street and Princess Fiona in Shrek the Musical.
Ironically, one of Zegler's upcoming acting gigs will be playing a Disney princess in the live-action Snow White movie alongside Gal Gadot, who has signed on to portray the evil queen. Zegler also recently finished production on her second official film, Shazam! Fury of the Gods.
In her personal life, she is a huge Star Wars fan, and a fan of Oscar Isaac in particular, who she has frequently tweeted about.
Before her big break, she joined YouTube back in 2015. She went viral for her cover of "Shallow" from A Star Is Born, which received over 12 million views on Twitter and YouTube.
Watch the West Side Story trailer, below.