AP Breakthrough Entertainer Rachel Zegler's baptism of fire

Rachel Zegler would have achieved her breakthrough moment in a different timeline.

AP Breakthrough Entertainer Rachel Zegler's baptism of fire

This was the moment when Steven Spielberg's version of "West Side Story", was supposed to open the show and introduce the world. The New Jersey high school student responded to an open Twitter call and beat thousands of others for the role of Maria. The pandemic had other plans.

But 2021 was not a time to wait. Her dance cards filled up quickly. She was cast in for the sequel to "Shazam", and she landed the role of Snow White in the live action reimagining, with Gal Gadot as the evil queen.

Rachel Zegler poses in a portrait in New York on Sunday, November 28th 2021. Zegler was one of eight breakout entertainers of the year. (Photo by Drew Gurian/Invision/AP).

Zegler was selected as one of eight outstanding entertainers for the year. (Photo by Drew Gurian/Invision/AP).

Zegler (20) said that it's been a year full of transition in a Zoom interview. She spoke from Clifton, New Jersey, where she was staying with her family. "I stepped outside of my comfort zone."

After filming "Shazam 2", she was ready to jump into the promotional circus for "West Side Story". Interviews, photo shoots, and many, many red carpets meant that she was able to do things she'd never done before.

Zegler stated that the Met Gala was my first red carpet, and it felt like a baptism of fire. "I said yes, and then I was like, "Oh, now I must go and I have like, walk up the stairs and take the red carpet," Zegler stated.


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Zegler was named one of The Associated Press' breakout entertainers of the Year by The Associated Press alongside Simu Liu and Sawetie.

She met Lorde at the Met Gala and told her how much her music meant. To her delight, Lorde -- whose name is Ella -- also knew who she was.

"She said, 'I'm Ella. It was nice to meet you. You can sing and dance. Zegler stated, "I can't wait for your film." "I am taking that to the grave."

Similar events occurred recently with Kid Cudi at CDFA Fashion Awards. Although Zegler isn’t one who is easily star-struck, it was still surreal to be suddenly recognized.

Zegler stated, "You don’t realize the extent of the reach until you’re in it." "And then all these people are coming to you -- complete strangers -- and a lot it has to do, I believe, with Steven's influence on the industry, and the global economy."

Her life had changed significantly three years before Spielberg informed her she had been offered the role. Zegler would not only be the star of an iconic film with a legendary director, but she would also be the first Latina (she is Colombian-American), to portray the role in a major motion movie. It was history made.

Zegler stated, "I really believed no one would view the video that I sent,"

She said that her family is feeling overwhelmed. After all, she is the baby. She tries to remind her parents as often as possible that she wouldn't be the same "emotionally stable, well-spoken individual" without them.

She said, "They are very proud, but sometimes I think they get scared for my safety." It's scary. Sometimes I get scared."

Zegler is grateful for the gap year she took to prepare for her new life in the spotlight.

She said, "I don’t know how I would react to all that’s happening in my life right now if I hadn’t had a year to prepare." "I was clearly devastated that we had to delay a year. I don't know of anyone who wouldn't. It's interesting to see that the girl I was before COVID moved the movie for 365 days isn't the same girl today.

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