The Untold Truth Of Rachel Zegler

If you don't already know, Rachel Zegler just might be the next big name in musical theater. Zegler got her big break in 2019 when she was chosen from a pool of 30,000 hopefuls to play Maria in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story, per Classic FM. Incredibly, Zegler had never appeared in a film before landing the lead role opposite Ansel Elgort, who is slated to play Maria's love interest, Tony.

While West Side Story will mark Zegler's first foray into film, musical theater is in her blood. Classic FM reported that the New Jersey native attended a performing arts high school and was an experienced stage actress before auditioning for the film version of West Side Story. In fact, before landing the film role, she played the part of Maria in a "Performing Arts School presentation of West Side Story at the Bergen Performing Arts Centre." She's also starred as Belle in Beauty and the Beast, Ariel in the Little Mermaid, and Cosette in Les Misérables.

All that being said, Zegler was well on her way to stardom before landing the part in Spielberg's film. The young woman went viral in 2018 when she uploaded a video of herself singing "Shallow" from A Star is Born on Twitter. The video's amassed more than 11 million views to date. With pipes like that, it seems like Zegler has a long and successful career ahead of her. Here's everything we know about the up-and comer-so far.

Rachel Zegler shares a special connection with 'West Side Story'

While Rachel Zegler played Maria in a performing arts school production of West Side Story before landing the role in Steven Spielberg's feature-length film, Zegler also feels a more personal connection to the character as she herself is Latinx. Zegler was "born in New Jersey to a Polish father and a Colombian mother," according to Classic FM. The cultural significance of starring in a big-budget film centered on the Latino community was not lost on her. After landing the role, she took to Instagram to share her feelings about the project.

"when I played maria on stage a few summers ago, i never could have imagined that i'd be taking on the role again in steven spielberg's 'west side story,'" she gushed of the "impeccably poignant story." As for the part of Maria, she wrote: "as a colombian-american woman growing up in this day and age, strong roles like maria are so important. to be able to bring that role to life— a role that means so much to the hispanic community— is so humbling."

In an interview with in 2019, Zegler further explained her connection to the character. "I'm a young Latina woman growing up in a primarily white area of town where I live," she told the outlet. "I feel like Maria is somebody I know really well," she said, adding, "She's someone I hold very near and dear to my heart."

Rachel Zegler has opinions, and she's not afraid to share them

Like many celebrities and public figures in the summer of 2020, Rachel Zegler was outspoken on social media about George Floyd's death and the Black Lives Matter protests. In May 2020, the U.K.'s Metro reported that TikTok users became suspicious of the app's motivations when they noticed that certain hashtags, including #blacklivesmatter and #georgeflloyd, did not appear to be working. Zegler, who found fame on TikTok, called out the app in a series of since-deleted tweets.

According to ET Canada, Zegler accused the app of "'extremely apparent" racism and informed her followers she would be deleting her account. "You have the opportunity to spread awareness right now, as an extremely popular social media app," she tweeted, adding, "But instead you perpetuate oppression by not promoting amazing black creators ..." In another tweet, she wrote: "Pretty clear where your loyalty lies." Zegler also told TikTok to "Do better," and then shared a screenshot of herself deleting her account. 

It seems like whether it's to perform or to talk about causes close to her heart, Zegler isn't afraid to use her voice.