Rita Moreno – Nothing Stopping Her


Photo courtesy of Penguin Group USA LLC

by Laura Posadas

Rita Moreno, born Rosa Dolores on December 11, 1931, has won numerous awards and achievements, including being one of the only 11 people to have received the four major entertainment honors- Emmy, Oscar, Tony, and Grammy breaking new ground for Latinos in entertainment.

Moreno is best known for her role as Anita in West Side Story in 1961, a modern musical inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Moreno’s role won her an Academy Award for best supporting actress making her the first Hispanic actress to win a Best Supporting Actress Oscar.

Her career took another turn from stage and films in the 1970s. She joined The Electric Company, a children’s program in which she stayed with for six seasons and became known for her trademark catchphrase, “Hey, you guys.” The entire cast won a Grammy Award in 1972 for The Electric Company soundtrack.

Three years later, Moreno won a Tony Award as Best Featured Actress in a musical for The Ritz. She then won Emmy Awards for The Muppet Show and The Rockford Files.

After having a thriving career for several decades, she continues to work steadily on both small and large screens.

“Bigger than life is not difficult for me. I am bigger than life,” Moreno said.

Her reputation as a national treasure, a status that was officially ratified with the award of the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush in 2004.

However, before her success, Moreno had to endure many obstacles to break into show business. As a Latina, with no role model or mentor, she was lonely and insecure. She relegated to what she calls “dusky maiden roles “.

“I made movies for a long time when I was young and I always had to have an accent,” Moreno told audience when referring to her role in West Side Story according to EFE. “But that wasn’t the worst problem. If I played a Latina, I always had to be too sexy and too easy. I hated that.”

Moreno acknowledges that it isn’t as challenging for Hispanic actors and actresses to break into the industry as it was for her but she still encourages Hispanics to support their community.

“The door is open, but the door is not sufficiently open. We still have to push it,” said Moreno.

Earlier this year, Moreno was honored with a lifetime achievement award from the Screen Actors Guild for her extensive work in entertainment.
Besides being a famous actress, Moreno reflects her struggles with Hollywood’s barriers and explored the wounded girl behind the glamour in her book Rita Moreno: A Memoir in 2013.

At age 82, Moreno is not slowing her career. She is expected to co-star in Amy Poehler’s upcoming NBC pilot Old Soul and will also be the voice of Mimi in Rio 2, out April 11.

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