Rosa Dolores Alverío born December 11, 1931, in Humacao, Puerto Rico, was the first triple threat I knew. She has earned the exclusive honor of being in the EGOT club, winning two Emmy Awards, A Grammy, An Oscar and A Tony. She is the only LatinX actor to do so thus far. She has been a goddess since the 60s.
Viva Doña Rita!
I was introduced to her dynamic showmanship as an impressionable preteen. My family are music and movie aficionados and they thought it was time I saw West Side Story. So one Saturday afternoon we popped some popcorn, and the cassette into our VCR, and sat down for a cinematic experience. I remember being floored by Anita. She was outspoken, even through the accent they forced her to adopt for affect.
By the time we got to ‘America’ I was in love. I mean sure, Maria was cute and Natalie Wood decent at pretending to be Latina but, Rita as Anita was the stand out here! She stole the show for me and won herself an Academy Award for Best Supporting actress just for emphasis.
Bigger than life is not difficult for me. I am bigger than life. – Rita Moreno
It was her role I wanted to play, it was her songs I wanted to sing and her choreography I practiced dancing when no one was watching.
Rita Moreno is life for Puerto Ricans….she is the Boriqua who made it at a time when we were designated criminals and cucaracha catchers. She broke ground not just for Puerto Ricans, for LatinX people, and women too! An original Brown Girl Out Loud. I love her talents and I love the optimism she represents for Boriquas coming behind her.
She showed the world we are more than America’s bastard child. We are an island full of dynamic and timeless people. Most importantly, she showed me we were more than the stereotypes, even she was forced to adopt to break through.
And through these years I have followed her and remain ever in awe as I watch her refuse to diminish. Most recently she has taken a role in the reboot of One Day at a Time, now a series on Netflix. She is funny and charming and brilliant as always and you should watch it with us! Aging ever gracefully and without any shame and I am once again inspired watching her eat up every scene like a giant plate of arroz con gandules.
She has improved things and given me someone to look up to and admire, reflecting what is possible, even for a little Puerto Rican girl from Queens.
Rita is one monumental example of a life lived out loud. I am so excited to honor her this week, especially during Women’s History Month!