Rachel Zegler is a rising star with not one but two major movies coming up: the West Side Story remake and the leading role live-action Snow White. With her leading role as Maria in Steven Spielberg’s upcoming film adaptation of West Side Story, a special appearance in the telenovela podcast Princess of South Beach, and a role in Shazam 2, it seems like there’s nothing she can’t do. This week, to add to the Colombian-American actress’s growing list of accolades, The National Board of Review of Motion Pictures just awarded Zegler Best Actress for her work in WSS!
Zegler immediately took to social media following the announcement, captioning her post on Instagram: “thank you, @nbrfilm. i am so humbled and honored. wow wow wow.”
First formed in 1909, the National Board of Review is an independent organization that annually gives awards in directing, acting, screenwriting, and more. It was first awarded in 1945 to actress Joan Crawford for her work in Mildred Pierce. Since then, Best Actress has been awarded almost exclusively to white actresses including Grace Kelly, Julia Roberts, and Meryl Streep—twice. Halle Berry and Whoopi Goldberg are the only Black women in history to have received the award. That makes Zegler’s win particularly notable.
Not only is West Side Story not even officially out yet, but she’s also only the second Latina actress in history to receive the prestigious award since Brazilian actress Fernanda Montenegro’s win for her role in Central Station in 1998, according to Variety. It’s frustrating that it’s taken 23 years for The Board to recognize another Latina actress when others like Rita Moreno, Salma Hayek, and Michaela Jaé Rodriguez exist but it’s still a win for Zegler and the Latinx community at large, and a sign that maybe things in the industry are slowly changing.
“I haven’t done any other film projects, but I’m constantly pinching myself—there’s no way this is my life. That comes with a lot of gratitude and a lot of anxiety and a lot of impostor syndrome. I do have moments when I’m like, ‘I am worthy, and I got this job for a reason,’” Zegler previously told Town & Country.
Her next big on-screen appearance won’t be until 2023 in her secret key role in Shazam! Fury of the Gods. Following in the footsteps of Supergirl actress Sasha Calle, Zegler is the second-ever Colombian-American actress to be added to the DC universe.
Earlier this year, she also confirmed her lead role in Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, announcing on Instagram: “well… hello to a dream come true.” Production is slated to begin in 2022.
We’re so excited for Zegler’s successes so far at only 20 years old, and it’s only just beginning!
West Side Story releases in theaters on December 10th, 2021.