“West Side Story” star Rachel Zegler may have her moment at the Oscars after all. The 20-year-old Latin actress was invited to host the ceremony, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The gesture occurred two days after Zegler, who plays Maria in Steven Spielberg’s musical film, posted on her social media that she had not been invited to the awards and would support the film from her couch. “West Side Story” is nominated for seven awards including best picture, directing and supporting actress for Ariana DeBose, who is expected to win.
Following an Internet firestorm over news that @RachelZeglerthe star of best picture nominee #WestSideStoryhad not been invited to attend the #Oscars ceremony, the Academy has invited the up-and-comer to be a presenter at the ceremony: https://t.co/hZSOKcOth7 pic.twitter.com/cACdcVYroh
— The Hollywood Reporter (@THR) March 22, 2022
The post sparked a lot of reactions online; many couldn’t understand why the leading lady of a best picture nominee wouldn’t have been invited to the ceremony or even to present an award.
“Hopefully some last minute miracle happens and I get to celebrate our movie in person, but hey, I guess that’s the way it is sometimes,” Zegler continued on Instagram. “Thanks for all the shock and outrage, I’m disappointed too. But that’s okay. So proud of our movie.”
Best Picture nominees receive a certain number of tickets from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which the movie studio then distributes as it sees fit. Individual presenters and nominees get a pair of tickets. Other seats in the room are for the broadcasting company, sponsors and members of the academy, who can participate in a lottery.
Zegler isn’t nominated, but what’s more, her next big role is Snow White, which she’s currently filming in London. Some wondered why The Walt Disney Co., which owns the ABC network that broadcasts the Oscars, wouldn’t want its new Snow White to be there in some way, whether to present an award or perform. Others saw it as a wasted opportunity to have a rising Latin star on the show. Representatives for Disney and the Academy did not respond to a request for comment.
Russ Tamblyn, who played Riff in 1961’s “West Side Story” and is a voting member of the Academy, tweeted that it was “the duty of the Academy to find Rachel a seat at the Oscars…When they say representation matters, this is what that means. Please do the right thing with her.”
Alec Baldwin tweeted that he would buy Zegler two tickets to the gala.
And “One Day at a Time” showrunner Gloria Calderón Kellett tweeted in a message to ABC and the Academy: “What if on the rare occasion that Latinos have an OSCAR nominated movie they invite the protagonist? Latinos are 18.5% of this country. ENOUGH!”
Oscar tickets are often in high demand and this year they are even more limited than usual due to efforts to keep more space between guests to help prevent the spread of covid-19. Most of the members of the academy have never gotten to attend the ceremony.
And the outrage has only intensified as more and more presenters are announced with limited connections to the nominated movies or the movie business. On Monday, the producers of the Oscars revealed that DJ Khaled, Tony Hawk, Kelly Slater and Shaun White will present awards on the show, which will air live on ABC on Sunday starting at 8 p.m. New York.