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Felicity Warner / HCM
Culture > Entertainment

Rita Moreno, A True Gem

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at SBU chapter.

During Hispanic Heritage Month, it’s important to recognize and remember those who have changed the game for all people, especially for those with Hispanic background. One figure who sticks out to me is the iconic Rita Moreno.

I didn’t know her at all as an actress until 2017 when I discovered “One Day at a Time” on Netflix. She played Lydia, the always present grandmother with all the gossip and guidance for her two teenage grandchildren. On “One Day at a Time”, she beat down stereotypes while keeping humor at the forefront of the show.

I had no idea when I began watching “One Day at a Time” just how much Rita Moreno had accomplished. In 1931, she was born in Puerto Rico, and soon became a star. Not only did she enter the spotlight in 1943, when she was only 12 years old, but she continues to represent the Golden Age of Hollywood even now. She earned the EGOT, as well as the Triple Crown of Acting, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and so many other well-known awards.

She pioneered for not only women, but also for Hispanic people, as a greater whole. At the beginning of her career, she was cast into stereotypical roles, but as time went on, she began to represent larger ideas and was allowed to develop characters with more than just background roles.

In 1961, she was cast in the film adaptation of “West Side Story”, where she would go on to win the Academy Award for Best Supporting actress. She was described as being a “spitfire” in this role.

During the 1970’s, she began to star in shows like “The Electric Company”, “The Muppet Show”, and by the 1990’s, she was invited to perform at President Bill Clinton’s inauguration. She was no longer forced to play stereotypical roles and was finally moving up into roles that allowed her to explore many different characters.

Rita Moreno continues to be an inspiration for all women and people with Hispanic heritage. She persevered through many challenges in show business and, I’m sure, continues to experience some level of this even today. However, she is proof that when you set your mind to something that is important to you, it is possible to make that dream a reality.

The more I find out about Rita Moreno, the more I truly see why she continues to act. She is clearly someone who has a great perspective on life and a lot of grit. Even when she was turned away from roles early on in her career, she continued to fight until she made progress. While representation is not perfect and often is dramatized or experiences are minimized, Rita has made great strides for the world of show business. We are so proud of you, Rita Moreno!

Alexis Serio is a new writer for Her Campus at St. Bonaventure University. She plans to write pieces surrounding topics of feminism, entertainment, and campus life. Alexis is a freshman studying Communication, Social Justice, and Advocacy. Beyond Her Campus, Alexis spends her time studying with friends and getting involved in the many clubs SBU has to offer. In her free time, you can find Alexis reading, watching Modern Family, or making her friends laugh when it's "Alexis Time". She is also a lover of almost any type of music, as long as she can sing along with it.