Legendary EGOT-winning actress Rita Moreno is the subject of the recently released documentary, “Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It”, and in an interview promoting the film she explains why she decided to hold nothing back.
“I made a promise to myself that I would be as honest and truthful as I could possibly be, and that’s exactly what happened,” Moreno, 89, tells Yahoo! Entertainment in a new interview
In the film, directed by Mariem Pérez Riera, Moreno recalls signing a contract with MGM when she was just a teenager, only to realize she only roles she was being offered were the “island girl” or “dusky maiden,” which typically cast her as a sex object. This depiction, in turn, led Hollywood producers to likewise think of her in those terms and make unwanted advances on her.
“The truth is, it never occurred to me not to withstand it,” Moreno says. “I figured, and I was right, that that was how Hollywood was run and how it functioned. And I just went with the flow, as they say, not happily. And it’s the very thing that eventually drove me into psycho therapy, which is probably the best favour I ever did myself. You know, if you’re Latina, things are never great. At least then, especially. You just expect that.”
While Moreno says she hated being referred to as “a sex object,” she also admits she didn’t do much to counter that viewpoint
“You hate it when they call you a sex object. And here’s the truth, and this is something I didn’t mention [in the documentary] only because I didn’t think about it,” she said. “I would dress up in a very, very provocative way. I always wore tight, tight little dresses with my cute little bum. Too much makeup, usually. And the earrings and stuff, and I somehow never acknowledged that that wasn’t helping. On the other hand, as the #MeToo movement would say right now: Well, f**k them! You can dress any damn way you please. You can wear as many loop earrings, and as low-cut a neck as you want, and that’s also true.”
Discussing her status as the third person to ever conquer the EGOT — an Oscar for “West Side Story” in 1962, a Grammy for “The Electric Company” in 1972, a Tony for “The Ritz” in 1975 and Emmy for “The Muppet Show” and “The Rockford Files” — Moreno revealed which of those awards holds the most significance for her.
“It has to be the Oscar, it has to be the Oscar for all the obvious reasons,” she says. “It’s the iconic support that you receive from your own industry. And that a Puerto Rican girl got this was really, really meaningful.”
However, Moreno also reveals that the role served to further pigeonhole her with casting directors as she found herself offered “gang things on lesser scale.”
She admits, “It broke my heart, it really broke my heart. I thought, ‘Well, obviously it has nothing to do with talent.’”
As Moreno sees it, here “greatest triumph” is that she’s “still alive and working, as a working actress,” says Moreno, who starred in the reboot of “One Day at a Time” from 2017 to 2020 and will soon be seen in Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story” remake and an upcoming TV production of “Wicked”.
“That’s what’s so wonderful,” she declared.
“Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It” is out now.