Rita Moreno is perhaps the most acclaimed Latina actress alive today. She’s had love affairs with Marlon Brando and Elvis Presley, starred in West Side Story, Oz, and numerous theater productions, films, and TV shows. But in her interview with Maria Hinojosa, she reveals the nagging self-doubt she’s struggled to overcome and the overwhelming feeling of receiving lifetime achievement awards.
At just 82 years young, Rita Moreno remains one of the busiest stars in show business. In January 2014, Rita will receive the Screen Actors Guild’s Lifetime Achievement Award. This spring, Rita will lend her voice as Aunt Mimi in the highly anticipated animated film, Rio 2. Her first book, Rita Moreno: A Memoir, published by Celebra last March, instantly became a New York Times Bestseller.
Ms. Moreno was born Rosa Dolores Alverio in Humacao, a small town near the Puerto Rican rain forest. At age 5, she moved with her mother to New York where the precocious child soon began dance lessons. She made her Broadway debut at just 13 in Skydrift, starring Eli Wallach. Then, in true Hollywood tradition, a talent scout spotted her and arranged for the teen to meet MGM mogul Louis B. Mayer, who signed her to a film contract.
At a White House ceremony in June 2004, Ms. Moreno was awarded The Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush. The medal is the highest honor bestowed upon a civilian and ranks only second to The Congressional Medal of Honor as the nation’s highest award. It is conferred on individuals for a lifetime of meritorious service.