Woman-made, Latinx-made, the new Rita Moreno documentary is exactly the kind of non-fictional story we need right now. Directed by Puerto Rican filmmaker Mariem Pérez Riera, Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival on January 29, 2021. The documentary tells the story of resilience and success of a Latina who paved the way for current generations.
I am proud to have the opportunity to tell Rita’s story. Hopefully, this film will give strength to the women all over the world…
“Rita is La Reina. Punto. Full stop,” said the Rita Moreno documentary executive producer and renowned Latino actor Lin-Manuel Miranda in a statement. This piece on EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Awards) winner Rita Moreno’s 70-year-long career recollects how this actress, dancer and singer had to struggle with her family’s underprivileged economic situation and the continuous stalls of a racist, sexist society to become one of the most renowned Latinas ever and a true Hollywood treasure.
As director Mariem Pérez Riera put it: “As a filmmaker, woman and Puerto Rican, I am proud to have the opportunity to tell Rita’s story. Hopefully, this film will give strength to the women all over the world, who today, face a similar fight towards equality.”
A new addition to the AMERICAN MASTERS documentary profiles series features interviews with Rita Moreno herself, who’s currently aged 89, Norman Lear, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Gloria Estefan, Emilio Estefan, Morgan Freeman, Whoopi Goldberg (another EGOT winner), Eva Longoria and others.
The movie explores the struggles Moreno encountered on her way to stardom, with a 21st century gaze on sexism, abuse and mental health. Days after its festival release, the film already has an IMDB rating of 8.2 and, based on 28 professional critics reviews, a Rotten Tomatoes score of 100%. Top-notch Latinx storytelling! ????????
Rita Moreno: basic info
- Real name: Rosa Dolores Alverío Marcano.
- Birth place: Humacao, Puerto Rico.
- Moreno Age: 89! She was born in 1931.
- Net worth: $25 million dollars, according to Celebrity Net Worth.
Rita Moreno’s biography: The life of the girl who went for it
Rita Moreno’s bio tells a story of poverty, emigration, struggles with sexism and racism and, finally, success. She was born in rural Puerto Rico. When she was very young, at age 5, Rita Moreno emigrated to New York with her mother, a seamstress.
Moreno studied dance and performing on Broadway, and was casted firstly as any ethnic minority the racist Hollywood studios required. Around those times, she could be Latina as well as Native American, Egyptian or Polynesian.
In the 50s, she played mainly small roles (she even appeared in Singing in the Rain!). Her major success was becoming the first ever Latina to receive an Oscar in 1962, after playing Anita in the musical film West Side Story (1961).
In the early 60s, Moreno was involved in a toxic relationship with actor Marlon Brando. In 1965, she got married with her manager, Leonard Gordon, with whom she remained together until he passed away in 2010. They had one daughter, Fernanda Gordon Fisher, and two grandchildren.
Rita Moreno: Awards
In 1977, at age 46, Rita Moreno became the first Latina to become an “EGOT” winner: she had won a Tony, a Grammy, two Emmys and one Oscar. Only 15 other people in the world have received all 4 major awards, among which we can mention Audrey Hepburn and Whoopi Goldberg, and she’s one of the six non-US nationals to achieve this milestone.
In 1962, Rita Moreno had become the first Latina actress to win an Oscar for her performance as Best Supporting Actress as Anita in the musical film West Side Story (1961), whose 2021 remake is being currently directed and co-produced by Steven Spielberg and in which Rita Moreno will perform again. The original movie, loosely based on Romeo and Juliette, was about the conflicts between two gangs in the Upper West Side of New York. It won 10 Academy Awards in total, after being nominated to 11.
One of her Emmys (she has two) was awarded after the television drama series The Rockford Files; her Tony was for her acting performance in the 1975 Broadway production The Ritz; and she won her Grammy for the children’s television series The Electric Company.
Rita Moreno’s Oscar Dress: from 1962 to 2018
For the 2018 Oscars, at age 86, Rita Moreno re-wore the same dress skirt she had worn at the 1962 Oscars, fifty-six years before! It’s a astonishing garment made in Manila, in the Philippines, were Moreno was right before flying back to America to the 1962 Academy Award ceremony. With long black gloves and a matching and a matching neck piece, she proved that, just like the dress, she didn’t just age, she everlasted.
Illustrator Credit: Alejandro Mogollo – Shop Prints!