Rachel Zegler, the lead of Oscar-nominated ‘West Side Story’, isn’t invited to the Oscars

Rachel Zegler is the lead in West Side Story, Steven Spielberg’s reboot of original Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim musical. I still haven’t seen it and I feel like everything is conspiring against me to get me to watch it. I will. In any case, Ariana DeBose plays Anita, and Ariana is basically a shoo-in for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar. The film is also nominated for Best Picture, Spielberg is nominated for Best Director, and the film has seven total Oscar nominations. You would think that the lead of the film – MARIA!! – would get invited to the Oscars, correct? This is a no-brainer, of course producers would ensure that Rachel Zegler gets invited, right? Not so much.

West Side Story star Rachel Zegler made a comment on social media about not having received an invitation to the Academy Awards later this month.

On Sunday, the actress, 20, posted a series of images on her personal Instagram account along with the caption “a quarter of the year well spent.” In the comments section, a user wrote: “Can’t wait to see what you’ll be wearing on Oscar night.” Zegler responded directly to that person, writing: “i’m not invited so sweatpants and my boyfriend’s flannel.”

Each Oscar nominee and presenter is offered a pair of tickets. Other tickets come out of allotments given to each studio, although the Academy not infrequently finds additional tickets for VIPs who wish to attend.

Zegler elaborated, suggesting that she has attempted to obtain a ticket and sharing how proud she is of the project. “Idk y’all 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 3 years ago.”

Zegler, who is currently shooting Mark Webb’s Snow White in London for Disney — the same studio which distributed West Side Story — continued in her comment: “I hope some last minute miracle occurs and i can celebrate our film in person but hey, that’s how it goes sometimes, i guess.”

Referencing the numerous comments that expressed surprise, Zegler went on to write in the thread: “thanks for all the shock and outrage— i’m disappointed, too. but that’s okay. so proud of our movie.”

[From THR]

This is awful. Again, she’s the lead. Rachel was cast as Maria after a nation-wide casting call. Spielberg anointed her and she’s the next big thing. She’s filming Snow White for Disney, which should indicate that she’s here to stay and fully part of Hollywood. But I guess no one from the film or studio wanted to ensure that the lead actress got invited to the Oscars. #OscarsSoWhite even with invitations to the show.

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.

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58 Responses to “Rachel Zegler, the lead of Oscar-nominated ‘West Side Story’, isn’t invited to the Oscars”

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  1. Noki says:

    I dont get it!? Someone forgot or they specifically dont want her there and why? Did the invitation and rsvp committee make a mistake or she is not wanted!?

    • Jamie says:

      Forgetting to invite the lead in a Spielberg film with that many nominations? I have a hard time believing it was an oversight, I think someone didn’t want to invite Ansel and she is the collateral

      *edited -I dont think ANYONE wanted Ansel there, not just one “someone”

      • LightPurple says:

        The producer and studio determine who gets the tickets allotted to the film. This is on Spielberg.

      • Megan says:

        Disney had no problem sending her on the PR tour for the movie. Suddenly, on the biggest night in Hollywood, she gets snubbed because of something she has absolutely nothing to do with. I wonder if a white woman would get this treatment (spoiler, she wouldn’t).

    • superashes says:

      I think it was probably a business decision based on where she would be sitting (front vs. back since she isn’t nominated and doesn’t have A list status), the cost to fly her there, whatever cost to break her current filming schedule (who knows the price tag for that), and whether it was ultimately worth it since they would need to expend the same effort to also have other stars also attend (i.e. Ansel Elgort) if they are doing it for her.

      • GamerGrrl says:

        Yes. Not a snub, they want to save tickets for people who will “excite” folks at home. She may be the star, but the movie was not a huge hit, and she is not that well known (yet). They will favor older, more established stars and execs who want to go to the Oscars. This happens in all entertainment industries, not just the movies.

      • Dutch says:

        What’s funny is that she seems like a prime candidate to be a presenter for one of the categories they chose not to televise this year. The Academy tends to pick ingenue types for those secondary categories. Plus I think in the 7-10 Best Picture Nominee era, the leads not nominated not attending the ceremony is more common that we realize.

      • Mia4s says:

        @Dutch you would think she would be a prime candidate to be a presenter…but I’m looking at some of the presenters they have invited and both side-eyeing and facepalming. They are trying to draw viewers (they’re TERRIFIED). They don’t care who actually made the impact in movies this year. Among others they had room for:

        Jennifer Garner: never Oscar nominated but hey I suppose her umpteenth role as “supportive suburban mom” in mediocre movie #17 makes her a must.

        Kevin Costner: who has had huge success this year…with a television show. Celebrate the movies…am I right?

        Kelly Slater and Shaun White: huge in movies. Huge…oh wait they’re a snowboarder and a surfer.

        I mean…huh? 😂

      • Jennifer says:

        She may just not rank high enough/socially enough, would be my guess. If they’re not inviting everyone, she was expendable, I guess.

        Still sucks, though.

  2. Janettrain says:

    If they invite one lead, they have to answer why they didn’t invite the other. She’s paying the price for Spielberg’s casting of Ansel.

    • Reya says:

      That’s my guess too – Disney don’t want to invite Ansel Elgort and have him repping them at the Oscars, so they decided not to bring either of them. But it’s nothing to do with Rachel and makes Disney look SO BAD.

      (I watched WSS and thought Elgort was totally miscast anyway. I found Maria annoying, and the high soprano of her songs really doesn’t appeal to me, but I can still acknowledge that Zegler did a great job with the part.)

      • Songs (Or It Didn't Happen) says:

        Janetrain I think you may be on to something. Reya, you are right on the money. Ansel was a bad choice. Rachel as Maria was wonderfully cast, but the role is a bit like adult Cosette in Les Mis where her part isn’t my favorite. I thought Bernardo and Riff were the best in the movie.

  3. Snuffles says:

    I tried watching it. Couldn’t get through it. I kept comparing it to the original and it constantly fell short.

    • smcollins says:

      It’s never a good idea to do that lol. I know what you mean, though. I didn’t think it needed to be remade, rebooted, whatever you want to call it, but I love anything Spielberg and I looked at it as more of a love letter/appreciation for the original and really enjoyed it. But that’s me!

    • Becks1 says:

      I ended up really liking it, but the beginning was a little hard because I sort of had to readjust my mentality to get through it. Parts of it are SO similar to the original that it took an active effort on my part to not compare the two. It also was much more open about the racism the Puerto Ricans faced – which is obviously in the first one but the idea of “they’re taking our jobs/neighborhood” was much more…..”present,” I guess, in this one.

    • Wiglet Watcher says:

      You can never compare the 2… but still, why make a remake of it’s not as good as the original?

    • Mindy_DeLaCalle says:

      Snuffles, I had the exact opposite reaction. It was just last year that I tried watching the original for the first time and I couldn’t take it seriously. It felt silly and ridiculous considering the content matter. I couldn’t get past all their ballet and classical training moves as A FIGHT. I kept laughing. This iteration however, was beautiful. It felt gritty and fluid, seeing all the brown actors made my heart soar. I loved it.

    • Mama says:

      It fell short in what? The lack of brown face? The lead actually singing her own songs and having her own voice used? The lack of brown face for even Moreno? You liked her in extra brown face?

    • HollyGolightly says:

      The original WSS has been my favorite movie since I was 12-years-old.

      BUT I was completely blown away by the new one, and I don’t hesitate for a second in saying I think it’s a MUCH better movie overall.

      I wouldn’t even call it a “remake”. It’s more of a fresh adaptation to me.

  4. smcollins says:

    That’s terrible! I finally watched WSS over the weekend and loved it. She made a lovely Maria, her performance was solid & heartbreaking. Since the studio seems to be doing nothing to rectify this incredible oversight (to put it nicely) maybe Spielberg will step in and save the day *fingers crossed*

    • Wiglet Watcher says:

      Her performance was nice, but the rest? Ansel as Tony was horrible.

      • EBS says:

        I enjoyed everyone’s performances, except Ansel’s. Rachel was great, Rita Moreno was fab, Anita DeBose was unbelievably good. Ansel was a lunk of wood.

    • Erica says:

      Yes! Wouldn’t it be nice if he stepped in and made her his plus one? Kate has been to plenty of Oscars at this point!

  5. C-Shell says:

    This is insane. And, the zing she’d bring to the red carpet and all the cast pics *when WSS wins awards* is bankable. This sounds like a situation where people will hustle to make sure she’s invited, now, but the damage is done. Heads should roll.

  6. Sonia says:

    She does NOT say anywhere that she wasn’t invited though, just that she “couldn’t make it work” – which could mean anything. She’s working on the Snow White movie (groan) so maybe scheduling.

    I thought west side story was dumb but I’m not into old fashioned musicals anyway.

    • Becks1 says:

      From the post – “Zegler responded directly to that person, writing: “i’m not invited so sweatpants and my boyfriend’s flannel.””

    • Wiglet Watcher says:

      It wasn’t an enjoyable watch and I like the story and musicals.

    • Jamie says:

      She specifically says that she was not invited, she wants to go, and she is still hoping she will get an invite.

      • CourtneyB says:

        Not just that, she elaborated that she even tried to get tickets and couldn’t. This is such a bizarre story and another black eye for this year’s ceremony coming on the heels of them booting some categories off screen. That’s riled a lot of actors, directors, etc. I wonder if there’s any snobbery because she came from social media right into the lead of a Spielberg film? Otherwise they should’ve loved having her as they’re always accused of going too old. She’s young, attractive, and has a good SM following.

  7. Wiglet Watcher says:

    I thought Sondheim discovered her at a school function and she was already decided as the lead. The nation wide casting was pretty much set as it can be a farce for legal reasons.

    I rented WSS. I didn’t see what got it so many nominations outside of the industry names attached.

    She seems like a nice girl. She should have had an invite.

  8. Eurydice says:

    I can’t imagine that a big dog like Spielberg can’t get an extra ticket out of the Academy for his lead actress.

    • BothSidesNow says:

      Let’s see if he will man up and get 2 tickets for her since this has become an issue of blatant racism, as that’s how it looks no matter how you swing it.

  9. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    Who’s actually shocked. Real or pr ploy, it’s business as usual. Haven’t seen the show for more than a decade, and I never will. I despise smug self-gratification lol.

  10. Harper says:

    It’s too bad Zegler didn’t get an Oscar invite but that is a first world problem right now. And it’s Hollywood, right? She’s young and slid right into two major feature productions with ease but that is not the norm for most talented actresses. I can’t feel any outrage on her behalf. I do agree that not wanting Ansel Elgort as the face of the pic is the reason she got iced.

    WSS is a good movie to have on in the background while you do other things. I still don’t get why Spielberg had to remake it.

    • JD says:

      Yes, it’s a first world problem (like all of the celeb stories) but it’s still a slight. I like that she said something; we’re always saying we should know our worth in our jobs, negotiations, etc and it shouldn’t be different for her as a young actress. She’s the lead of the film and not being invited sends a message of her worth – it should be inspiring to other young women that she spoke up.

      • Harper says:

        I think her response was perfect. Obviously, she wants to go. Obviously, the studio has a reason for not inviting her. She didn’t do anything wrong. She may even think her snub isn’t worth the publicity.

        I’m surprised that the Oscars didn’t invite her to present? That would be her way in at this point if the studio doesn’t want to get their hands dirty. But unless you are nominated, a lot of actors and actresses in nominated movies don’t end up in the seats. They dress up for the after parties though.

    • North of Boston says:

      So you’re okay with a woman at the start of her professional career, in an industry that runs a lot on name recognition, visibility, and networking being iced out of one of her industry’s MOST high profile events – one where she would have had lots of visibility, press, eyes on, opportunity to schmooze and make connections, strengthen ties she’s already got and make new ones – being iced out because her male coworker is a jerk and her boss hired him?

      That’s … interesting.

      (And don’t even start with the “She knows Spielberg, she’s already got plenty of connections” nonsense…
      a) apparently not since she was blocked from the Oscars and
      b) that “she’s got enough already/first world problems” targeting of women in professional contexts didn’t fly when Disney tossed it at ScarJo and it’s not going to fly in this case.

      • Harper says:

        No one is owed a ticket to the Oscars if you weren’t nominated for one of the awards. Zegler didn’t get a nomination–but her co-star Ariana DeBose did, and DeBose gets to go. Zegler can still go to the parties and network like everyone else who works in the industry and didn’t get nominated. We don’t know for sure why she couldn’t didn’t get a ticket but the Elgort scandal may be the reason why. Recognizing why a studio might ice someone out is not the same as being okay with it.

        Hollywood is one of the most cut throat places on earth where lots of people who aren’t young and beautiful and don’t have a gifted voice like Zegler get iced out of roles and jobs and seats at the table everyday that no one is tweeting about.

      • Isabella says:

        Plus, look at her in that blue dress. Dazzling.

  11. Kasalvy says:

    Honestly, she sounded like she was whining on SM about not getting an invitation. And my assumption is that out of those 7 nominations, only one has a chance of winning and that means there will be no reason for her to be onstage, presenting, or in attendance. Let this be Ariana’s night.

    Also yeah, the Ansel optics aren’t great.

    • superashes says:

      I don’t think this was a purposeful freezing her out or even an intentional snub by Disney either, I think it was just the simple fact that the film had 7 nominations and she wasn’t one of them, and for her to be seated in the front (which is reserved for nominees and A listers) means someone else involved with this film has to go to the back.

      I can see where for Disney it just doesn’t make sense to spend the costs to dress her, fly her overseas to the ceremony, pay whatever cost has to be paid to break her current filming schedule, and then do the same for other actors and actresses who had a category but weren’t nominated (which is basically everyone except Ariana). It ends up being at the cost of the total seats made available to Disney and how they want to allocate them and who ends up being excluded so that she, Ansel and another actor could attend despite not having a nomination.

      • Twin Falls says:

        There could be many factors at play, but the idea of Disney not having the budget for a plane ticket, hotel room and fancy dress is very funny to me.

      • KASalvy says:

        Agree. She was hardly a standout in the movie – I didn’t buy her chemistry with Ansel at all and thought she played it pretty bland.

        It’s like they’re trying to make Rachel happen, but the audiences just aren’t buying it.

      • Dutch says:

        @Twin Falls, while the plane ticket is negligible to Disney’s bottom line, the missed production time adds up in a hurry. Depending on how far along in the shooting schedule is, Snow White might still have some room to juggle things around but maybe not. Losing Rachel for 3-5 working days so she can travel to a party on another continent could cost the production millions.

      • superashes says:

        The film was also a huge financial loss, for one, and it actually isn’t uncommon at all for a lead not to attend where the film they acted in is nominated for best picture. I think people have a skewed perspective on this because so often best picture and acting nominations go hand in hand.

        By cost, I also don’t mean just financial, what I mean is the cost of having someone else who may have been much more involved in technical aspects of the film in a nominated category essentially being uninvited (along with two others, since, by this logic you’d also be doing this for lead male and supporting male categories as well) to, in essence, soothe a lead actress who isn’t a nominee who wasn’t even expected to be in town because she is overseas filming another movie.

      • superashes says:

        Not even 3 – 5 working days. It would be that plus time to adhere to Covid protocols, so likely 2 weeks of lost filming, essentially screwing over a lot of the people working on Snow White.

      • beeboop says:

        Agree with all you’ve said. It was definitely not a casual decision or any kind of slight. This was likely explained to RZ and she could’ve worded her posts better bc she comes off a certain way. Not a good one.

      • AnneL says:

        I think that because the movie didn’t do well at the box office, people are forgetting that it got pretty glowing reviews overall. I read them before it opened in theaters. Some people might thing a remake is sacrilege, or unnecessary, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t an excellent film.

        I saw it and personally thought it was better than the original. The choreography was better, for one. It incorporated fight moves rather than being merely balletic. The actors were more age appropriate and were also LatinX for the Puerto Rican roles. Rachel has a gorgeous voice (unlike Natalie Wood who, while a great actress, couldn’t even sing her own songs) and she can act too. She’s a real talent. They didn’t take notice of her for no reason.

        I understand there’s a pandemic and they can’t include everyone, but I still think it sucks that she doesn’t get to attend. She WAS the lead in an Oscar nominated, critically acclaimed movie. She is going to star in a Disney blockbuster. Sure, it’s going to be Ariana’s night (and she was amazing), but Rachel is missing out on what should have been a moment for her too.

        If she’s a little sore about it, I can’t say I blame her. Especially if part of this is because of Ansel. It was too late to recast him when the allegations emerged (they were almost done filming, I think). It’s not Rachel’s fault he’s a predator.

        As for how she worded it? She sounded disappointed, not angry or bitter. And she has a big fan base that she built partly on social media before she was cast. She is in part addressing their disappointment. She’s young. What she said was true….she wasn’t invited. She tried to make it happen but it didn’t. She’s allowed to be disappointed.

  12. JD says:

    It honestly just goes to show what women have to deal with – her being excluded because of issues that revolve around her male costar. It was a million years ago but I remember when Leo wasn’t nominated for Titanic and he refused to go to the ceremony – everyone made such a big deal that he didn’t attend to support the film. At least he was invited.

    Rachel not being invited likely bc they didn’t want Ansel is such a terrible reason; she’s not responsible for him. And while I do agree it’ll likely be Ariana’s night it shouldn’t exclude the other female lead from being there. More than one woman can be celebrated at once.

    • one of the marys says:

      I’ve obviously missed something big because why is Ansel so very problematic that they now can’t have him associated with this movie?

      • Becks1 says:

        He was accused of sexual assault/rape….maybe two years ago? I can’t remember if it was during the pandemic or before, but I think he had already signed on for this movie (it may have already been filmed, I honestly can’t remember the timing.) I can’t remember the specific accusations but I think it involved someone pretty young.

  13. North of Boston says:

    The Oscars are hosted by the same Academy that’s twisting themselves and the Oscar telecast into pretzels trying to drum up interest and viewers, right?

    Trying to get more people, people in addition to their skews older, skews white core audience?

    Leaving her off their guest list is an interesting choice, then. They can keep reshuffling the categories and the hosts all they want, but this shows they have no real clue. They could have had her and Ariana present an award together or done many other things to have her there while avoiding toxic AE, if they wanted.

  14. Robert Phillips says:

    Could it possibly be because of the pandemic. She’s in London. You are still supposed to isolate for what, 10 days when flying in from England. She’s filming a movie right now. They may not want her to take that kind of time off. Isn’t that a possiblility. And isn’t that a little more realistic than all these conspiricy theories going around. This isn’t like most years where she could fly in on a red eye Saturday and be at the Oscars then fly out Monday. People keep forgetting we are still in a pandemic. With a new variation coming.

    • superashes says:

      Yes. This is a much more realistic take. They’d have to pay for her to come here and likely also have to pay a fee to break her filming schedule for Snow White. All so that she can sit at the front and someone more directly involved in a nominated category can give her their seat and go to the back to, I guess just sit there when the award is presented.

      I guess they would also be joined by two others, since, if you are doing this for her, you would be doing it for Ansel and whoever would have been up for male supporting lead. Even looking at the categories, certainly Best Sound, Best Costume Design and Best Cinematography aren’t going to have overlap for whomever is being celebrated (who shouldn’t have to give up their plus 1). There might be some overlap between Best Picture and Best Director, perhaps.

  15. Concern Fae says:

    They moved the Oscars to a much smaller auditorium a few years back and it is no longer an everyone gets to come situation. Should one of the nominees for the film lose a family member being able to come?

    It feels like she didn’t get the nomination she expected, wasn’t invited to present, and now someone nominated is going to lose the chance to have a loved one there if she goes. And she’ll get huge publicity out of it, whether or not she attends.

    And it may very well have been Disney blocking it because they don’t want to risk a shutdown if she get Covid from the new variant going around.

  16. Eloisa says:

    She and Ansel did a bad job, they are the weakest performances; she has a good voice but no acting skills at all. On the other hand, Ariana, Faist and Alvarez shined, they were so good.

    And she is white, she is of both Colombian and Polish heritage, #oscarsowhite doesn’t apply in this case. She’s not like Alvarez whose parents are Cuban and have lived in Mexico or Ariana daughter of Puerto Ricans. I say this as a Latina (we are of different races, even white) seeing how she tries to sell herself as such because her grandmother was born in Colombia. This makes us uncomfortable, a privileged person trying to use the Latina card *rolled eyes*. For new generations of Latinos the simplification of issues and the way Latinos are portrayed in the Story is also a problem. However the work Spielberg did is very good, the camera work is great; technically it is a great movie.

    • SS says:

      I thought her performance was charming, a definite improvement over Natalie Wood in the original movie. The two leads in original movie were awful, couldn’t sing and the “Puerto Ricans” were slathered in tons of phony brown face.
      I also don’t think you get to judge how she presents herself as a Latina. Arianna de Bose also has a non-Latin White parent and David Alvarez comes from a privileged, highly educated family. Latin doesn’t equal disadvantaged anymore than it means any particular race. The actress who plays the blonde Graciella is half Latina, just like Adriana and Rachel.

    • Jules says:

      Colombians aren’t White tho…there are MANY afro-Colombians. As a matter of fact, Colombia received the most slaves out of any Spanish colony during the slave trade. They are not singularly, nor largely, White.