Rachel Zegler is about to be a household name. The 17-year-old high school student has been cast for the role of Maria in the upcoming West Side Story remake by Steven Spielberg. Zegler, who said on social media that she previously played the role of Maria on stage, reportedly beat out 30,000 women to land the leading role, according to Deadline.com.
“I am so thrilled to be playing the iconic role of Maria alongside this amazing cast,” Zegler told Deadline in a statement. “West Side Story was the first musical I encountered with a Latina lead character. As a Colombian-American, I am humbled by the opportunity to play a role that means so much to the Hispanic community.”
She also took to social media to share her excitement about the role.
“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’,” she wrote on Instagram. (sic)
“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.”
If you need any convincing that Zegler is deserving of the role, check out her outstanding vocals from covers she has shared on social media.
Rachel will star alongside 24-year-old Ansel Elgort, who will play the role of Tony, and Ariana DeBose, a former Hamilton cast member, who will play Anita.
Rachel is currently an honors student from Clifton, New Jersey. She gained notoriety on social media after her cover of Lady Gaga’s “Shallow” from A Star is Born went viral with nearly half of a million views.
Zegler has also previously starred on stage as Cosette in Les Miserables.
“My favorite role that I’ve ever played is tied between Cosette in Les Miserables and Maria in West Side Story,” she said in a YouTube video sharing information about her life. “My favorite acting performance was as Maria, and my favorite singing performance was as Cosette.”
Filming for West Side Story will begin in the summer of 2019.