I grew up seeing little-to-no representation of Latinxs in television or film. “West Side Story,” despite its inaccurate and stereotypical depiction of the Puerto Rican community, was one of my favorite films growing up because it was one of the few films where I saw any Latinx actors (even though there were very few actual Latinx actors in the film) or reference to the Latinx community at all. (A lot of folks had their opinions about the casting of Natalie Wood, the white actress who played Maria, and rightfully so.) I was always a lot more focused on the character Anita played by the now-iconic Rita Moreno. It might have been a supporting role, but Anita stole the show for me. So when the casting for Steven Spielberg’s remake of the film was officially announced, I was a lot more concerned about who was going to play Anita than who was going to play Maria. When I learned that the role was given to none other than Broadway star Ariana DeBose — a beautiful, talented, and dark-skinned Afro-Boricua — I was thrilled. I hadn’t even seen the film yet, and I was already feeling optimistic about it. Elementary school me would have never in a million years imagined the character of Anita being played by a Black Latina.
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