‘West Side Story’ star Rachel Zegler not invited to the Oscars

Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story is nominated for seven Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director and Supporting Actress for Ariana DeBose. But the star of the film musical will not be among the participants in the ceremony on Sunday.

Rachel Zegler, the 20-year-old who plays Maria, posted Sunday that she’s tried to walk but “it doesn’t seem to be happening” and that she’ll be cheering on West Side Story from her couch.

“I’m hoping for a last minute miracle and a personal celebration of our film, but hey, I guess that’s how it goes sometimes,” Zegler continued on Instagram. “Thanks for all the shock and outrage – I’m disappointed too. But that’s okay. So proud of our film.”

The post drew a lot of attention online, as many couldn’t understand why the leading actor of a best picture nominee wasn’t invited to the ceremony, or at least asked to present an award.

Best Picture nominees are allocated a certain number of tickets by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which the film’s studio then allocates at its sole discretion. Moderators and individual nominees will receive a pair of tickets. And further places in the room go to the broadcaster, sponsors and academy members who can take part in a raffle.

Zegler isn’t nominated, but to make matters even more annoying, her next big role is as Snow White, which she’s currently filming in London. Some wondered why The Walt Disney Co., which owns Oscars network ABC, wouldn’t want their new Snow White there in some capacity, such as a presentation or performance. Others saw it as a missed opportunity to have represented a rising young Latina star on the show. Disney and Academy officials did not respond to requests for comment.

Russ Tamblyn, who played Riff in 1961’s “West Side Story” and is a voting member of the academy, tweeted that it was the academy’s duty to “get Rachel a place at the Oscars…. When they say representation matters, that’s what they mean. Please do her justice.”

Alec Baldwin tweeted that he would buy Zegler two tickets to the show.

And One Day at a Time showrunner Gloria Calderón Kellett tweeted on ABC and the Academy: “How about that rare time that Latin American people have a film that’s nominated for an OSCAR and you invite the lead. Latinos make up 18.5% of this country. ENOUGH!”

Oscars tickets are always a hot commodity and even more limited than usual this year as attempts are made to create more space between guests to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Most Academy members have never participated.

And the outrage has only increased as more and more presenters are announced with limited ties to the nominated films, or to the film business at all. On Monday, producers announced that DJ Khaled, Tony Hawk, Kelly Slater and Shaun White would all present the awards at the show, which will be telecast live on ABC Sunday at 8 p.m. ET.

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