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Rachel Zegler Is About To Blow Us All Away In "West Side Story," So Here Are 15 Facts About Her

"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 that the entire world will be talking about the film's ridiculously talented lead, 19-year-old Rachel Zegler.

Rachel Zegler as Maria in West Side Story

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.

Rachel Zegler at the Met Gala

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

1. 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."

2. 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.

Rachel Zegler singing in her bathroom

3. At the time she landed the role of María, Rachel was planning to go to Montclair State University for college — a plan that 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.’"

4. 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.

5. 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.

Rachel Zegler having a live reaction to seeing the West Side Story trailer for the first time

6. 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: steven: me: that’s fair.

Twitter: @rachelzegler

7. 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."

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

Rachel Zegler side by side with Rita Moreno

9. Rachel will be playing Snow White on the big screen, but it won't be the first time she's played a Disney princess — she played Ariel in her high school production of The Little Mermaid.

Twitter: @rachelzegler

Of course, Halle Bailey will play the role of Ariel on the big screen. The two princesses recently met at the Met Gala, and it was so sweet.

10. 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

11. 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

Here's her full cover of "Shallow" — you're welcome.

12. 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

13. Speaking of AOC, Rachel has even dressed up as the congresswoman for Halloween.

Twitter: @rachelzegler

14. Rachel is also a huge Swiftie and regularly covers Taylor Swift songs on her YouTube channel.

Twitter: @rachelzegler

15. 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:

Rachel Zegler performing Astonishing from Little Women

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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