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West Side Story includes newcomer Rachel Zegler in the starring role of María. This actor is credited as an artist on songs like “I Feel Pretty.” Is that actually Zegler singing in this Broadway musical-turned movie? Here’s what we know about this actor.

Rachel Zegler attends the premiere of 'The Many Saints of Newark' at Beacon Theatre
Rachel Zegler attends the premiere of ‘The Many Saints of Newark’ at Beacon Theatre | Taylor Hill/FilmMagic

Rachel Zegler appears as María in ‘West Side Story’

Zegler went from starring as Princess Fiona in her high school’s production of Shrek: The Musical to appearing as María in West Side Story, created by Steven Spielberg. 

This movie musical also features actors like Rita Moreno, Ariana DeBose, David Alvarez, and Ansel Elgort and follows a similar story to the original Broadway production. What makes this movie even more special is that it includes newcomer Zegler.

‘West Side Story’s’ Rachel Zegler performs well-known songs from the Broadway musical

As the lead role in West Side Story, Zegler performs songs in this 2021 remake. That’s her voice on tracks like “A Boy Like That/I Have a Love” and “I Feel Pretty” featured in the original motion picture soundtrack.

According to Classic Music, “the music for the film adaptation was prerecorded and then dubbed over the on-screen performances.” This was a new process for Spielberg, who would first shoot movies like Close Encounters and then hand it off to composer John Williams. 

This wouldn’t be the only song featured on Zegler’s Spotify page, as this young actor often shares original songs with fans. Her first officially released song, “Let Me Try,” holds thousands of plays on the music platform. In her free time, Zegler publishes music on her YouTube Channel, even going viral for her cover of “Shallow” from A Star is Born.


How Old Is ‘West Side Story’ Star, Rachel Zegler? How Old Is Her Character, María, Supposed to Be?

Rachel Zegler submitted a video of herself singing ‘I Feel Pretty’ in conjunction with her ‘West Side Story’ audition

The “Balcony Scene (Tonight)” singer earned praise for her acting chops, earning snagging National Board Review prize for Best Actress. However, when Zegler first auditioned for West Side Story, she sent a tape of herself singing “I Feel Pretty” and, after several in-person auditions, earned the starring role.

“I cast Rachel when she was 17,” Spielberg said. “She was a senior in high school when she got the part. I could not believe that somebody who could sing as well as that and who looked the part of María — how could I be so lucky to find her on my first day of casting?”

“When she began singing live on that song and just tears,” he continued. “Not just me, everybody around us. Tears. It was extraordinary to watch her do that.”

Additionally, Zegler is expected to sing in conjunction with Disney’s remake of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, where she’ll star as the title character. Until then, fans can see Zegler in West Side Story, playing in theaters as of Dec. 10, 2021.