Actress and activist Rita Moreno talks about mental health and diversity at UMC

Rita Moreno discusses her life and profession with CEB within the Glenn Miller Corridor of the College Memorial Heart. September 20, 2022 (courtesy of Patrick Campbell, College of Colorado)

On Tuesday, September 20, the CU Boulder Council of Cultural Occasions had a dialog on the Common Memorial Heart with actress, singer, and activist Rita Moreno. Moreno’s profession spanned over seven many years and 40 characteristic movies. She is one in every of solely 17 people to have gained a sequence of prestigious EGOT Awards – Emmys, Grammys, Oscars, and Tonys.

Moreno has lengthy been seen as a Hollywood icon, however she has spent years overlooking or labeling her within the studios. Moreno defined that the visible illustration of Latinos in movies was very restricted and he or she grew up with a really distorted notion of her identification and worth as an individual due to it.

“It has concerned quite a lot of ache, disappointments, and ache, and being very defensive about my identification for much too lengthy,” she stated.

Charming, humorous and outspoken, Moreno has guided the viewers by way of the trials and tribulations of her lengthy profession. Moreno’s first large break got here at simply 13-years-old together with her Broadway debut as “Angelina” in Skydrift, and he or she has since appeared in initiatives throughout the leisure business. Talking about her psychological struggles, the actress defined that whereas she has achieved success, undoing the injury discrimination has carried out to her self-worth takes a variety of work.

“One of the best factor I’ve ever carried out to myself – ever – is to enter psychotherapy as a result of I have been an sad, depressing, unhappy, offended younger girl for a really, very very long time,” she stated.

The actress famous that it was her then-boyfriend Marlon Brando who inspired her to hunt assist, which made the viewers scream in laughter.

“It type of amuses me as a result of Lonnie was telling the opposite she wanted assist, and he was proper,” she stated.

Moreno is maybe greatest identified for her Oscar-winning efficiency within the 1961 movie “West Aspect Story.” The actress was as soon as once more invited as govt producer to re-imagining Steven Spielberg for the movie, which was launched final 12 months.

“[Spielberg was] He determined that this time round, that respect can be proven to the Hispanic actors who had been enjoying the sharks,” Moreno stated. “The primary model—which I liked by the best way—was very well timed.”

Within the unique movie, Moreno was one of many solely Puerto Rican actors to play a Puerto Rican. Nonetheless, whereas strides have been made in illustration and inclusion because the movie’s launch, Moreno believes that Latinos are nonetheless severely underrepresented within the leisure business. The most recent Hollywood Variety Report from UCLA revealed that solely 7.7% of appearing roles are given to Latinos regardless of having the best per capita theater attendance of all races in the USA.

“It hasn’t modified as a lot as we had hoped,” she stated.

Moreno weaves scandalous tales and humorous anecdotes between these deep notes. She spoke of themed birthdays, soccer stars’ locker rooms and even her temporary relationship with Elvis Presley, all of the whereas by no means lacking the chance to embarrass her grandson, Leeds Enterprise Faculty graduate Justin Fisher, who was seated within the entrance row.

The actress additionally mentioned her documentary movie “Rita Moreno: Only a woman who determined to do itOn Netflix in 2021. Within the movie she discusses her involvement in political activism.

“I used to be speaking to the youngsters about being happy with who they’re,” she stated. “In case you are ready to assist people who find themselves not ready to assist themselves, then you may have a accountability and you must do it.”

Amongst these current on the occasion was Professor Ernesto Acevedo Munoz of CU College, creator of the bestselling e-book “West Aspect Story as Cinema: The Making and Impression of an American Masterpiece and a member of the group advisory board who labored on Spielberg’s reimagining of West Aspect Story.

“West Aspect Story is a really delicate property,” he stated. “On the one hand, it was a favourite — now, it is within the third era of followers. Nonetheless, all of us additionally acknowledge that there are these delicate and delicate points, notably when it comes to race and gender as properly, that may be addressed.”

The Neighborhood Advisory Board was a part of the producer’s effort to seek the advice of the communities wrongly represented within the 1961 musical. Though he didn’t obtain credit score within the movie for his work, Acevedo Munoz says the expertise was optimistic.

“I’m very proud of the corrections they’ve made to those historic errors,” he stated. “Rita Moreno is a real fighter and this combating spirit is one thing that has not solely made her seen and busy, however has stored her title in our minds all these years.”

Contact CU freelance author Lara Bradley at Lara.Bradley@colorado.edu.