With West Side Story in theaters, the garnering of a Golden Globe and other award nominations, and her role as Snow White in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs , it seems safe to say that actress and singer Rachel Zegler is becoming a household name. The actress and official Disney princess spoke to D23 recently on the D23 podcast about her role as Snow White (opposite Gal Gadot as the Evil Queen), her time working with Steven Spielberg on West Side Story, and her memories of Disney as a child!
“It feels fake,” Rachel said when thinking about her successes at such a young age. “It feels like it shouldn’t be allowed. I made this movie when I was 18 years old…a month from now will be four years since I auditioned for it, so the fact that it’s only now seeing the light of day — it just feels like it shouldn’t be happening. We’ve been so blessed, we made something we’re so proud of…the fact that it’s being received so well by so many people and on a very big scale is so heartwarming”.
30,000 people auditioned to play Maria, so Rachel’s casting truly was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity — and it was apparently one that she had to work very hard for! The entire audition for Maria took “340 something days”, and Rachel didn’t even meet Steven Spielberg until six months later even though he’d been watching her from afar during the audition process. It was another six months before she actually was cast, and Rachel recalled that she “went in steadily I think eight or nine times over the course of a year”, which is something that she now knows is usually “unheard of”.
Rachel expressed gratitude for the success that she’s gaining as an actress, saying how pleased she is that the team behind West Side Story “took a chance on new talent”. “I’m certainly grateful for it,” she added, “and I hope that it sends a message to other people in those positions of power that, you know, there’s nothing wrong with seeking out new talent”.
Rachel Zegler has also been lucky to work on her “first major film” with Steven Spielberg, who she says is “the best person to work with”. According to her, “everyone who’s starting out in the industry should work with Steven Spielberg…he sets a precedent for how people should be treated” as well as a “loving and passionate environment” on set.
Rachel Zegler also has her own Youtube channel, where she shares covers of songs and updates on her life. When Rachel visited Disney in the summertime to celebrate being cast as Snow White in the upcoming Disney live-action adaptation of the “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” fairy tale, she made a point of meeting the Snow White character performer and doing all things Snow White! Check it out in the video below! Rachel also “grew up” on Disney movies and Disney music from animated films like The Little Mermaid (1989).
When asked about her success, Rachel said that one thing she’d always defined her idea of success by would be her ability to take her parents to Disney. Now that she’s been cast as a major Disney princess character, won a Golden Globe, and starred in a Spielberg musical that is taking awards season by storm, the actress confirmed that she can now “take my parents to Disney whenever they want”!