Singer, dancer and actress, Rita Moreno is now an icon in the film industry. After the success of “West Side Story” (1956), in which the Puerto Rican actress played Anita, Moreno became one of the few women and the only Latina to win the Triple Crown of Acting, winning Academy, Emmy, and Tony awards.
But it wasn’t all success and glory in Rita Moreno’s story.
The new documentary, “Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It,” follows Moreno’s humor and grace as a little-known actress battling stereotypes, sexual assault, and objectification on her way to stardom.
As reported by Indie Wire, the story includes Hollywood’s pernicious sexism and abuse, her toxic relationship with Marlon Brando, and severe depression.
Rita Moreno recounts her arrival in New York when she was five years old, her family’s struggle to survive, and her arduous road to Broadway.
Moreno recounts how, in order to survive in the film industry of the first half of the 20th century, her identity as a Latina was diluted in all sorts of roles, from Native American to Indian, which would transform her into a fighter for Latino rights in and out of the industry.
The documentary premiered at Sundance back in January. IndieWire’s Jude Dry said in their “A-” review, “One of the most striking revelations in ‘Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It’ is the film’s gentle insistence that we imagine what Moreno could have achieved were it not for the many roadblocks put in her way. Director Mariem Pérez Riera wisely resists the urge to romanticize Moreno’s struggles and thus flatten her life story into an unequivocal triumph, though she certainly came out on top.”
Moreno will appear in this year’s TCM Classic Film Festival virtual event to commemorate the 60th anniversary of “West Side Story.” The documentary will be released in theaters just as theaters across the country begin to reopen. It will then premiere on PBS as part of its “American Masters” series in the fall.
“Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It” hits theaters on June 18.