Rachel Zegler is taking over the world. The ‘West Side Story’ actress, who was once an unknown high school student from New Jersey, is set to play Snow White in a live-action movie!
Rachel Zegler, 20, is Hollywood’s next big thing. She’s already earning awards season buzz for her upcoming portrayal of Maria in Steven Spielberg’s version of West Side Story. Now she is set to star as another iconic character: Snow White.
The New Jersey native was just 17 years old when she landed the role of Maria, beating out tens of thousands of other applicants. West Side Story will mark Rachel’s feature film debut. From her journey to playing Maria to the announcement that she’ll play Snow White, here are 5 key things to know about Rachel.
1. Rachel will play Maria in ‘West Side Story.’
Steven Spielberg began casting for the role of Maria in January 2018. Wanting to keep the movie as “ethnically authentic” as possible, the open casting call requested Latinx actors. Rachel responded to the call with a video of herself singing “Tonight” and “Me Siento Hermosa [‘I Feel Pretty].” Those submissions stood out from the 30,000 others, earning Rachel this potentially star-making role.
“I am so thrilled to be playing the iconic role of Maria alongside this amazing cast. West Side Story was the first musical I encountered with a Latina lead character,” Rachel said upon her casting, per Variety. “As a Colombian-American, I am humbled by the opportunity to play a role that means so much to the Hispanic community.”
2. Rachel is set to play Snow White.
The actress will play the title role of Snow White in Disney’s live-action adaptation of the animated classic Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. “Rachel’s extraordinary vocal abilities are just the beginning of her gifts. Her strength, intelligence and optimism will become an integral part of rediscovering the joy in this classic Disney fairytale,” director Marc Webb told Deadline.
well that’s a Thing that is Happening pic.twitter.com/mbqrPLylM6
— rachel zegler (she/her/hers) (@rachelzegler) June 22, 2021
The director and Disney had been searching for their Snow White for months. Rachel’s auditions reportedly “impressed everyone” but early footage of West Side Story “blew everyone away and helped push the decision across the finish line.” Rachel reposted the exciting news on Instagram and wrote, “Well… hello to a dream come true.”
3. She has a YouTube channel.
Rachel was born in Hackensack and raised in Clifton, she developed her acting chops by partaking in theatrical productions at Immaculate Conception, an all-girls Catholic high school. In June 2019, Rachel graduated from high school. Rachel started her own YouTube channel, which has over 200,000 subscribers and counting.
Rachel entertains her growing fanbase with covers of pop songs, Vlogs, and other videos. Rachel’s cover of “Shallow” from A Star Is Born went insanely viral with over 3 million views and counting. Then, when haters said it was autotuned, Rachel took to Twitter to post a soundcheck where she belted out some more “Shallow” lyrics, and DAMN, this girl has PIPES!
4. Rachel is a gun-control activist and speaks out against social injustices.
Rachel has shared a number of posts to support the March For Our Lives movement and stands with immigrants on her Twitter page. “Protect kids, not guns. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: change is necessary for survival. our children are too precious and too important to be lost to the senseless need of guns,” she wrote in March 2018 with the “March For Our Lives” logo. In another, Rachel posed with a “Deport Trump” graffiti. While Rachel’s Instagram is mostly professional (with the occasional glamour selfie or goofy photo), her Twitter is highly active in social issues.
4. She will also star in ‘Shazam 2.’
Rachel is primed to be the next big thing in Hollywood. In addition to West Side Story and Snow White, she will also be part of Shazam: Fury of the Gods, the sequel to the surprise hit superhero movie starring Zachary Levi. Rachel’s role, as of early 2021, is being kept under wraps. But she did tweet, “I am in my key role in Shazam 2 era,” per Variety.