I understand that this was a competitive signing, with five agencies making presentations to Zegler. Word is that Spielberg and West Side Story producer Kristie Macosko Krieger helped Zegler navigate the agency signing process.
Zegler, a New Jersey High School student, first saw the audition notice for West Side Story back in January 2018 for Latinx actors. She submitted a video of herself singing “Tonight” and “Me Siento Hermosa” (“I Feel Pretty”) from the hit Leonard Bernstein-Stephen Sondheim show, and landed the part of Maria (a role made famous by Natalie Wood in the 1961 movie) opposite Ansel Elgort who is playing Tony. Spielberg and his team were committed to finding the best actors within the Puerto Rican as well as the broader Latinx community casting a wide net.
West Side Story will open on Dec. 18 via 20th Century Fox/Disney with Spielberg directing and Amblin producing.
The principal Shark roles in the remake are played by Broadway veterans Ariana DeBose as Anita and David Alvarez as Bernardo. Theater performer Josh Andrés Rivera has been cast as Chino. Rita Moreno, who played Anita in the Jerome Robbins-Robert Wise movie, will portray Valentina in Spielberg’s take, a reconceived and expanded version of the character Doc, who is the owner of the corner store in which Tony works.