More than 30,000 people from around the world auditioned to play the starring role of Maria in Steven Spielberg's remake of the classic musical "West Side Story." But, there is only a place for one — and she's not the Hollywood insider you might have expected.
New Jersey high school student Rachel Zegler will be belting it out on the big screen in the title part opposite Ansel Elgort's Tony, according to Deadline. It will be her film debut.
Zegler wrote about it on Instagram Monday, saying in part, "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."
She also wrote that she played Maria "a few summers ago," but "never could have imagined that i'd be taking on the role again" in the upcoming film.
Zegler saw a call in January 2018 on Twitter for Latinx actors for the musical, reports Deadline. Zegler submitted an audition video singing "Tonight" and "Me Siento Hermosa" ("I Feel Pretty") to the open casting call.
The self-described "theatre kid" has more than 83,000 subscribers on her YouTube channel, where she posts videos singing today's hits, Broadway favorites and throwback songs from bands like Queen.
In December, the tweet of her belting out "Shallow," from a "Star is Born," went viral, garnering over 315,000 likes and 79,000 retweets.
Zegler will star alongside Tony-nominee Ariana DeBose as Anita, "Billy Elliot" alum David Alvarez as Bernardo and former "Hamilton" tour cast member Josh Andrés Rivera as Chino, Deadline says.
Broadway legend Rita Moreno, who played Anita in the 1961 film, will have a role in the new movie as Valentina, the re-imagined version of the character Doc. Doc is the owner of the store where Tony works. Moreno will also be an executive producer of the film, reports Deadline.
The musical will be directed and produced by Spielberg, with a script by screenwriter and playwright Tony Kushner.
Filming is set to begin this summer. The movie will be released by 20th Century Fox.