West Side Story Rachel Zegler Facts And Song Covers

West Side Story Rachel Zegler Facts And Song Covers

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“I hope that young people everywhere will know that their features are gorgeous and their culture is beautiful.”

Something’s coming — and that something is finally the release of the new West Side Story film directed by Steven Spielberg. And when that happens, I can guarantee the entire world will be talking about the film’s ridiculously talented lead, 19-year-old Rachel Zegler.

Niko Tavernise / 20th Century Fox / The Hollywood Archive

Even though the film is releasing a full year late, Rachel has already made a major name for herself. From her unreal covers (seriously, her voice gives me chills!) to her Met Gala debut to her upcoming turn as a literal Disney princess in Snow White, Rachel is about to be absolutely everywhere.

Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue

So here are 15 facts about her that’ll make you love her even more:


At the age of 16, Rachel was cast in West Side Story (her first-ever movie role) after a friend sent her a tweet for an open casting call for the movie and said, “Thank me when you’re famous.”

Alamy Stock Photo

According to Vogue, that same night Rachel recorded an audition tape singing the iconic number “I Feel Pretty” — she sang it in Spanish, translated as “Me Siento Bonita.” And, well, the rest was history. (P.S. Rachel obviously DID thank her friend, Makena.)


Upon watching Rachel’s video, the West Side Story casting director Cindy Tolan told Town & Country she’d never heard someone sing Stephen Sondheim that way. For Rachel’s part, she hasn’t brought herself to watch the original audition tape since recording it.

YouTube/Rachel Zegler / Via youtube.com

“I would probably want to pull my teeth out if I did!” she told Town & Country. Note that the image above is not from her audition tape, but from one of many brilliant covers on her YouTube channel.


At the time she landed the role of María, Rachel was planning to go to Montclair State University for college — a plan which ended up changing…of course.

4 years ago today i auditioned to play maría in west side story at a local theatre company. here’s a photo from that day, and a photo of me as maría in the 2021 film. life is weird.

Twitter: @rachelzegler

She told Vogue: “I remember sending an email to the head of admissions at Montclair State University saying, ‘I know this sounds like a lie, but this is what happened, and this is why I can’t attend.’”


And, once she was cast, Rachel still had an obligation playing Princess Fiona in her high school production of Shrek. She headed straight to rehearsals for the movie once the show closed.

thanks for the nomination, #lohudmetros!
i share it with all of my fellow cast-mates who deserved to have their name read tonight just as much (if not more than) i did.
playing fiona was a joy and an honor.
no award could ever top that. ♥️

Twitter: @rachelzegler

Here she is performing “I Know It’s Today” in that production.


Rachel has a thriving YouTube channel where she documents her life and shares both covers and original music — here she is reacting to seeing herself in the first teaser-trailer for West Side Story.


And, in what feels like a real pinch-me moment, Rachel FaceTimed with Steven Spielberg immediately after the trailer dropped:

~ facetimed steven after the trailer dropped ~

me: sorry i’m such a mess
steven: i love your mess. i made a whole movie of you being a mess.
me: that’s fair.

Twitter: @rachelzegler


Rachel has talked about how meaningful it is for her to play the role of María as a Latina woman — and the impact the film will have on the next generation.

maría is strong, smart, and beautiful.

and she is latina.

i am so proud to carry on her legacy.

@amblin @VanityFair @20thcentury

Twitter: @rachelzegler

“It’s something that’s mattered so much to me, being Latina—singing ‘I Feel Pretty’ and meaning it,” she told Vogue. “I hope that young people everywhere will know that their features are gorgeous and their culture is beautiful.”


Growing up, Rachel had a photo of Rita Moreno in her locker — now, of course, she worked opposite the legendary actor on-screen in West Side Story.

Jake’s Takes/YouTube / Via youtube.com

Watch Rachel adorably surprise Rita in an interview with Jake’s Takes here.


Since we are simply living in this wonderful Rachel-ssance time, she also will appear in Shazam: Fury of the Gods in a yet-to-be-disclosed role. 👀

Twitter: @rachelzegler


You might recall this extremely viral tweet of Rachel singing “Shallow” and I just wanted to share it here again because I listened to it 400 times in a row, contributing my part to the over 11.8 million views on it.

Twitter: @rachelzegler


On top of singing, Rachel is amazing at doing celebrity impressions — just after her casting as Maria was announced, she also went viral for her takes on everyone from AOC to Idina Menzel to Rachel Green.

a thread of impressions that i can do because they’re too obscure for my resume even though no one cares

#1 – yzma from emperor’s new groove

Twitter: @rachelzegler


And finally, I know this is turning into me just absolutely losing my mind over Rachel’s talent, but I haven’t been able to stop thinking of this incredibly joyful TikTok that came up on my FYP of Rachel covering “Astonishing” from Little Women with pianist Tyler Capa:

In conclusion, stan Rachel Zegler…and less than three months to go until West Side Story hits theaters on Dec. 10, 2021!

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Charlotte Gomez / BuzzFeed

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