Mariem Pérez Riera Talks EGOT Icon in Rita Moreno: Just A Girl Who Decided To Go For It [Exclusive Interview]

Rita Moreno documentary directed by Mariem Pérez Riera

Rita Moreno documentary directed by Mariem Pérez Riera

Rita Moreno is an American treasure. It was surprising that her personal story wasn’t told in a full documentary despite a long-lasting career. Director Mariem Pérez Riera took the opportunity to document her life story in Rita Moreno: Just A Girl Who Decided To Go For It that’ll have you admire the entertainment icon from Puerto Rico.

Here’s the official synopsis:

Over a 70+ year career, Rita Moreno defied both her humble upbringing and relentless racism to become a celebrated and beloved actor, one of the rare EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony) Award Winners of our time. Born into poverty on a Puerto Rican farm, Moreno and her seamstress mother immigrated to New York City when Moreno was five years old. After studying dance and performing on Broadway, Moreno was cast as any ethnic minority the Hollywood studios needed filled, be it Polynesian, Native American, or Egyptian. Despite becoming the first Latina actress to win an Academy Award for her role as Anita in West Side Story (1961), the studios continued to offer Moreno lesser roles as stereotypical ethnic minorities, ignoring her proven talent.

Rita Moreno: Just A Girl Who Decided To Go For It illuminates the humor and the grace of Moreno, as well as lesser-known struggles faced on her path to stardom, including pernicious Hollywood sexism and abuse, a toxic relationship with Marlon Brando, and serious depression a year before she emerged an Oscar winner. Moreno’s talent and resilience triumphed over adversity, as she broke barriers, fought for representation, and forged the path for new generations of artists.

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LRM Online’s Gig Patta chatted with director Mariem Pérez Riera on interviewing Rita Moreno and compiling her life history and work.

Mariem Pérez Riera performed the lead role in The Two Worlds of Angelita at the age of nine. From that moment, she wanted to be a director. Her first documentary Cuando lo pequeno se hace grande was about the Puerto Ricans who fought against the US Navy presence in the islands of Vieques. She debut as film editor from rapper Daddy Yankee’s film Talento de Barrio. In 2007, she co-directed with Carlos Ruiz her first feature Maldeamores. Other credits include De Puerto Rico Para El Mundo, Diez En La Musica, and Croatto, La Huella De Un Emigrante.

Roadside Attractions releases Rita Moreno Just A Girl Who Decided To Go For It in theaters this Friday, June 18.

Watch the exclusive interview with Mariem Pérez Riera below. Let us know what you think.

Source: LRM Online Exclusive, Roadside Attractions

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Gig Patta

Gig Patta is a journalist and interviewer for LRM and Latino-Review since 2009. He was a writer for other entertainment sites in the past with Collider and He originally came from the world of print journalism with several years as a reporter with the San Diego Business Journal and California Review. He earned his MBA from the Keller Graduate School of Management and BA in Economics from UC San Diego. Follow him on Instagram @gigpatta or Facebook @officialgigpatta.

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