A conversation with actress Rita Moreno

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Cultural icon and legendary actress Rita Moreno joined “Horizonte” host Catherine Anaya to talk about her upcoming show on March 16 at Arizona Musicfest, her life, her career, and her role as a Hispanic pioneer in Hollywood.

Moreno gained fame for her breakout role as “Anita” in the 1961 film “West Side Story.” She became the first Latina to win an Oscar for best supporting actress.

“I really wasn’t aware that it would be that groundbreaking, but I knew that I wanted to play it very badly because she was one of the very few Hispanic characters that had a sense of dignity and self-respect,” Moreno said.

When Moreno and her family came to America at an early age from Puerto Rico, her mom was hopeful that everything she had heard about this country was true. “Indeed, in some ways it was, but in some ways it wasn’t for Latinos,” Moreno said.

Moreno mentioned how she was called awful names to and from school. It was difficult for her, and Moreno felt she didn’t want to be a member of the Hispanic community. It took time for Moreno to accept her talents and herself.

Psychotherapy was one thing that saved her. “That doctor put a mirror up to me, and he was showing me who I really was. I wasn’t this terrible, dirty Puerto Rican girl who wasn’t worthy,” Moreno said.

At 92, Moreno is still acting and appearing on talk shows. She enjoys sharing stories and currently has a documentary as well as a book.

“It was liberating honestly, and I talk about some personal things. People assume because I have such a sunny personality that it wasn’t anywhere difficult to me,” Moreno said.

Her upcoming show will air on March 16 at Highlands Church in Scottsdale. Tickets can be found at azmusicfest.org.

Rita Moreno, cultural icon and legendary actress

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