Rita Moreno’s life in Hollywood has not been easy. She has been fighting against racism and sexism throughout her career in films. And as one of the few Latina movie stars of her time, typecasting was a constant battle. but later story of the westThere was a shift. And not because Hollywood improved. Rather, it showed Moreno his ability. The 89-year-old elaborates on how playing the character of Anita story of the west A 2014 interview changed the direction of his career. And this story was told again in the 2021 documentary film about his life, Rita Moreno: Just a girl who decided to go for it.
Rita Moreno was typecast for years before ‘West Side Story’
The film debuted on television on October 5 on PBS as part of american masters Season 35. It gave an inside look at the EGOT winner’s 70 years in Hollywood – the good, the bad and the ugly. Moreno was one of the few Latina stars at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) studios when she was younger. Because of this, she was cast in roles only for women of color. And it didn’t matter where those characters were from. Asian, indigenous – Moreno played them all.
This typecasting had harmful psychological effects due to the racist ways in which the characters were written. Moreno told Houston Public Media:
“I was only allowed to speak with an accent because I was always playing what I call, in the most divisive way, ‘dusty maidens.’ It was always very dark makeup. It was always dark, long wigs. Barely wearing shoes. I wore butt skins. I wore all sorts of outfits instead of just clothes. After all, it really sent me to psychotherapy. Gave up because I really started to believe that I was unworthy as the characters I was chosen to play.
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Rita Moreno’s ‘West Side Story’ character Anita changed her life
Then came Anita. 1961 story of the west The movie was the best time of Moreno’s life for several reasons. For starters, the cast got along so well that she was “peeing her pants” all the time. And most importantly, the Puerto Rican star finally ended up playing a Latina written with dignity. Moreno said:
“[West Side Story] It made a difference in the sense that Anita actually became my role model. that was the first time, NS For the first time in my professional career, I actually played a decent young woman. A young woman who had values. A girl with a sense of self-respect, dignity. I had never played a role like this. Isn’t that amazing?”
“When I was playing a Latina, or a Native girl, or any of those racial stereotypes, these girls were usually morally questionable,” she said. “They were sexually easy, they were illiterate, they couldn’t speak English well. They couldn’t speak English at all. It was always these kinds of roles. And they were treated like that by those Hollywood executives at the time. was supposed to.
moreno’s story of the west The character helped him heal and realize his worth. Since that time, she hasn’t told Hollywood officials who she was. She still experiences racism in the industry. But she is ready to do the wrong thing when she sees it. And she uses her influence to help and uplift other marginalized people in the arts.
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As for Anita, Moreno still had to wear makeup to darken her skin. And she was one of the few truly Hispanic actors in the cast. Natalie Wood, who played Maria, was blonde and of Russian descent. Bernardo actor George Chakiris is Greek. This aspect of film music has not aged well. Most of the Shark actors wore makeup to darken their skin. Steven Spielberg story of the west (which stars Moreno and is the executive producer) corrected this by appropriately casting Latinx actors for Latinx parts. But Moreno still liked the original film and said its issues were a product of the time.
“It’s a really wonderful film,” she said. “Obviously, the dialogue is dated. But it is a treasure. And this Dance. Oh my god, dance. Songs by Gorgeous, Gorgeous Music [Leonard] Bernstein. This is one incredible movie. With all its drawbacks, that really has to do with age and time, which has really changed a lot since then. “
Moreno won Best Supporting Actress at the 1962 Oscars story of the west. She is still the only Latina actress to win an acting Oscar. She will return in the film that changed her life as Valentina, the owner of the shop known as “The Dock” in the original film. Spielberg’s story of the west Comes out on December 10, a day before Moreno’s 90th birthday.