High school student, singer and actress Rachel Zegler has been cast in the lead role of Steven Spielberg's planned "West Side Story."
The remake of the 1961 film about rival gangs in New York City and a forbidden love affair has already cast A-listers such as Ansel Elgort and Rita Moreno, and now a 17-year-old star on the rise has joined the team.
it’s official! so thankful to have the opportunity to work with one of my favorite directors and this incredible cast! and to be able to learn from the best (and one of my icons) @TheRitaMoreno is just BEYOND. surreal! https://t.co/qHLTRMWWOU— rachel zegler (@rachelzegler) January 14, 2019
17-year-old New Jersey teen Rachel Zegler cast as Maria in Steven Spielberg's ‘West Side Story.’ We have chills just listening to her sing! https://t.co/W1vUNMab63 pic.twitter.com/O8rmempxc4— Good Morning America (@GMA) January 16, 2019
Zegler, a Colombian-American singer and actress, has about 50,000 social media followers -- and that number is about to skyrocket after the huge news.
But she was a sensation before Spielberg took note of her talent, going viral for signing cover songs from the likes of Lady Gaga.
Check out this video with a whopping 352,000 likes!
someone: you use autotune????????— rachel zegler (@rachelzegler) December 14, 2018
After news of the casting hit, stars like Sterling K. Brown and Zach Braff took to Twitter to congratulate her.
perhaps i have stopped breathing https://t.co/72CV1qvX0v— rachel zegler (@rachelzegler) January 16, 2019
suddenly i cannot speak i can only stare with heart eyes goodnight https://t.co/vllpJF6CNb— rachel zegler (@rachelzegler) January 16, 2019
She’s just a love!!!! I am so excited @rachelzegler! https://t.co/f3YJ8tatxp— Ariana DeBose (@ArianaDeBose) January 16, 2019
Sending love to #FearlessSquad member @rachelzegler on being cast as Maria in West Side Story movie. So proud of all you have already accomplished and can't wait to see what's in store for you. ???? pic.twitter.com/vIJhhoBN6t— Mandy Gonzalez (@_mandygonzalez) January 15, 2019
AND it’s Gaga, I can’t. Sofa king excited for u bb. How amazing- get ready world. https://t.co/Hj3p7Bt3uG— Lesli Margherita (@QueenLesli) January 15, 2019
Rita Moreno, who starred in the original film, is executive producing this remake. She, along with Spielberg, has been praised for casting Latinx actors in key roles, unlike the original film.
In fact, Zegler went to an open casting call for Latinx actresses with 30,000 other young ladies to win the part.
Ariana DeBose, whose father is Puerto Rican and mother is white, has also been cast in the film, along with David Alvarez.
"Did YOU get cast in that new West Side Story?"— Darren Criss (@DarrenCriss) January 15, 2019
"Nah, me neither."
So pumped for you, had to troll your twitter before it blew the f up. Buckle up baby, shit's about to go bananas... CONGRATS! ??
Couldn’t have found a better Maria for West Side Story!! Your voice is unreal, I can’t stop watching this. Congrats and can’t wait to see it. Get ready girl! @rachelzegler https://t.co/x5tb4SFfu3— Lily Collins (@lilycollins) January 15, 2019
i don’t know how to form words https://t.co/NLOc1QeQH8— rachel zegler (@rachelzegler) January 15, 2019
Talk about a true "A Star Is Born" moment! Take a bow, young lady.