Rachel Zegler and Ariana DeBose Discuss Latina Representation and ‘West Side Story’

Rachel Zegler and Ariana DeBose star as María and Anita in West Side Story. The film was adapted for the screen from the original 1957 Broadway show, and tells the classic tale of fierce rivalries and young love in 1957 New York City. From 20th Century Studios, The Walt Disney Company will release West Side Story in theaters on December 10.

Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios

Zegler will star in Disney’s live-action remake of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which is set to begin production in 2022. She is one of the first Latina actresses to star in a live-action Disney film. Additionally, the actress is set to appear in DC Comics’ Shazam! Fury of the Gods, the sequel to Shazam! The movie is currently set to be released in summer of 2023 and recently wrapped production.

DeBose is best known for her role as Disco Donna in Summer: The Donna Summer Musical, which earned her a 2018 Tony nomination for best featured actress in a musical. For the same role, she was also nominated for a Drama League Award for disnguished performance and won a Chita Rivera Award for outstanding female dancer in a Broadway show.

Recently, the actress starred in the Netflix adaptation of the hit Broadway musical The Prom, where she played the role of Alyssa, as well as Schmigadoon!, the Apple TV+ musical comedy series. She has also joined the cast of the space thriller ISS. In 2015, DeBose appeared in the Tony-winning musical Hamilton as a member of the original cast in both the Broadway and off-Broadway productions. A film version of the production was also released on Disney+. After Hamilton, she completed a run as Jane in the original Broadway cast of A Bronx Tale. Other theater credits include Pippin, Motown the Musical, Bring It On: The Musical, and Company.

Photo by Niko Tavernise. © 2021 20th Century Studios.

I spoke with the talented duo about seeing their characters on screen for the first time and realizing they were going to allow Latinas everywhere to feel seen as well as performing “A Boy Like That / I Have a Love” together.

Watch my interview below for everything they shared with me: