PBS has announced that Rita Moreno is the subject of the next installment of American Masters, a documentary directed by Mariem Pérez Riera — who, by the way, is the mother of Marcel Ruiz, the Puerto Rican actor who plays Moreno’s grandson in One Day at a Time. Currently under the title “Rita Moreno: The Girl Who Decided to Go For It,” the documentary is set to air sometime next year.
Michael Kantor, the executive producer of American Masters, called Moreno “an American treasure.” The documentary is being produced by Norman Lear and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Lear, the creator of ODAAT, echoed Kantor’s praise of Moreno. “There’s no woman more deserving of the American Masters stamp. Her talent, her activism, her life — all worthy of an audience. And her story, an inspiration to so many, is one that should live on forever.”
Riera’s documentary on the PEGOT-winning legend will span the entirety of her career as an actor, contextualizing Moreno’s success against the sexism and racism she faced as a Latina in the industry. “As a filmmaker, woman and Puerto Rican, I am proud to have the opportunity to tell Rita’s story,” said Riera in a statement announcing the project to the public. “Hopefully, this film will give strength to the women all over the world, who today, face a similar fight towards equality.” The documentary will also delve into the darkest moments of her personal life and feature interviews with Moreno herself, Lear, Miranda, the Estefans, Morgan Freeman, Whoopi Goldberg, Eva Longoria, Justina Machado, Terrence McNally, and Chita Rivera.
Moreno recalled her humble roots in her own statement. “How I wish my Puerto Rican mother were alive to see this: her child’s story being celebrated by the likes of American Masters,” she said. “It is not something she or I could ever have imagined. I’m astonished. I’m humbled.” Still a working actor at the age of 87, she’ll be reprising her role on ODAAT for its fourth season on POP TV. She also is playing Valentina in Spielberg’s West Side Story (a role that replaces that of Doc from the corner store); the film is due late next year.
Miranda likened Moreno’s life’s journey as a “masterclass in the American dream,” summing up all of our thoughts in just a few unequivocal words. “Rita is La Reina. Punto. Full stop.”