Rachel Zegler: Who is Snow White remake star, how old is she, why has she caused controversy with comments?

Zegler is also the playing the lead role in the upcoming The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes
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The success of a film has the power to make or break the career of an actor, but sometimes it is how actor’s behave away from their film roles that get people talking, more than their on-screen performances.

Rachel Zegler burst on to the movie scene in Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story when she was a teenager finishing her school studies, but she very quickly swapped roles on the school stage for roles of the big screen. However, as she continues to build her filmography she’s gaining attention for the comments she’s writing on her social media accounts.

Zegler, who will star as the titular character in the next Disney live action remake, Snow While, which will be released in 2024, has just caused eyebrows to be raised by being very honest about her views on the classic Disney film. It’s not the first time she’s been outspoken about her views on the projects she’s been involved with either.

So, just who is Rachel Zegler, how old is she, what films has she starred in and why has she caused controversy with her comments? Read on to find out all you need to know.

Who is Rachel Zegler?

Rachel Zegler, whose full name is Rachel Anne Zegler, is an American actress and singer. 

Zegler was born in Hackensack, New Jersey in 2001 to her parents, Gina and Craig Zegler. She was named after the fictional character Rachel Green from the TV show Friends - a fact she revealed on her official X account in 2019. 

Her mother is of Colombian descent as her maternal grandmother immigrated from Colombia to the United States in the 1960s. Her father is of Polish descent and she also has an elder sister called Jacqueline.

Zelger performed in plays and musicals throughout her time at school before, in January 2018, director Steven Spielberg posted an open casting call via Twitter, now X,  for a new film adaptation of West Side Story. Zegler, who was then 16-years-old, replied to the casting call with videos of herself singing two songs from the hit musical, "Tonight" and "I Feel Pretty". She was subsequently selected from over 30,000 applicants for the role of Maria.

Since 2019, Zegler has been in a relationship with her West Side Story co-star Josh Andrés Rivera who played Chino. He is due to star alongside his real life girlfriend in the upcoming film The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, where he plays Sejanus Plinth and she plays the lead Lucy Gray Baird. You can find out more about Zegler’s film roles below.

How old is Rachel Zegler?

Zegler was born on 1 May 2002, which means she is now 22-years-old.

What films has Rachel Zegler been in?

Zelger first came to public attention with her film debut when she played María in Steven Spielberg's adaptation of West Side Story (2021), for which she won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Comedy or Musical.

The film propelled her to stardom and she then went on to play Anthea in the superhero film Shazam! Fury of the Gods (2023). She has also taken lead roles in two major upcoming films; she’ll play Lucy Gray Baird in The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, which is released in cinemas in November 2023, and then Snow White in the latest Disney live adaptation, which is due for release in 2024. She will also voice the lead character in animated musical film Spellbound, which is also scheduled for release next year.

Profile of film star Rachel Zegler. Photo by Getty Images.Profile of film star Rachel Zegler. Photo by Getty Images.
Profile of film star Rachel Zegler. Photo by Getty Images.

Why has Rachel Zegler caused controversy?

Zegler may still be a relatively new name in Hollywood, but she’s already caused quite a stir, and more than once.

In March 2022, Zegler posted on Instagram that she had not been invited to attend the 94th Academy Awards ceremony to support her colleagues involved in West Side Story, which received seven nominations. She wrote: "I have tried it all but it doesn't seem to be happening . . . I will root for West Side Story from my couch and be proud of the work we so tirelessly did three years ago. I hope some last minute miracle occurs and I can celebrate with our film in person.”

The following day, the Academy invited her to the ceremony to present one of the awards. Zegler was at that time filming the Snow White remake, but Disney adapted her shooting schedule to allow her to travel from London to Los Angeles to attend the ceremony. Zegler presented the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects alongside The Kissing Booth actor, Jacob Elordi. She wrote: “Well folks, I can't believe I'm saying this but... see you on Sunday! The absolutely incredible team at Disney and our snow white producers worked some real-life magic, and I am thrilled to be able to celebrate my West Side Movie fam at the oscars.”

She’s also caused controversy by giving some very honest opinions about the roles she has taken on. In 2023 Zegler frankly opened up about why she took the role on Shazam! Fury of the Gods in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter. She said she only did so because she needed a job. She added “I’m being serious” and said: ““The reality is we’re in the middle of a pandemic and I was not working and I couldn’t get a job for the life of me, because West Side Story hadn’t come out yet. It was really hard to book work for me.”

She did then, however, defend the film, which did not perform well at the box office, on her social media accounts. She wrote: “Some people out there and just being… senselessly mean. And it's unnecessary. And I know, I know, "If you can't handle the heat…" and all that nonsense, and you're right. But our film is actually very good, it's just cool to hate on fun nowadays. That's okay. We're good.”

Zegler has also slammed the original Disney Snow White film, which was released in 1937. She said that she “hated” the original film and believed that the prince was a stalker. She also added that Snow White is “not going to be saved by the prince and won’t be dreaming of true love”.

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