Singer, actor and oh yeah…she’s 84 years old. She doesn’t look it and certainly doesn’t feel it. Rita Moreno came onto the scene in the 1962 movie musical “West Side Story”.
She’s still as sassy as her original character Anita. Her discovering by talent scouts at 19 was her ticket to the big lights of Hollywood.
Even before she made her acting debut, she was busy growing up in The Bronx after her family emigrated from Puerto Rico. She at first spoke no English, but learned quickly.
She remembers the bullying, because of her heritage. Despite that, her mother taught her that you don’t accept things as they are, but push through. “You don’t sink,” she said. “You learn to swim.”
Rita went on to become one of just 12 entertainers to win an EGOT – Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony award. More importantly, she fights hard against the stereotypical roles she was given as a Latina to open up the entertainment field for actors of color.
Rita Moreno is still busy. With a recent CD, a memoir and guest roles on “Grey’s Anatomy,” voice over roles in “Nina’s World” and a new Netflix series “Rio 2”, which is a Latino remake of the 80’s hit show “One Day at a Time.”
She shares how watching Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream speech was one of the most impactful moments of her life.
She strongly believes Latino actors and actresses aren’t experiencing the roles leading to Oscar nominations. Although they are more visible in the film and television industries, the industry needs more Latino writers.
She refers to herself as the Energizer bunny – and just keeps on going and going. “My main focus in life is my family, my daughter and grandchildren are everything. In my career, I love to be funny – that’s something I’m always seeking.”
Rita Moreno constantly speaks to young people, encouraging them to never victimize themselves by not obtaining an education. She points to education as a factor to success.