EXCLUSIVE: Rita Moreno Talks 'Rio 2' & the Importance of Diversity in Hollywood

Rita Moreno
Mike LaMoncia

Where do we even begin?

Rita Moreno is one of the most iconic figures in Hollywood and when we were offered the opportunity to speak with her, we couldn't contain our excitement. A sweet and down-to-earth woman, you would never think Moreno is who she is!

When we spoke to Moreno to get the scoop on her role in Rio 2, hear all she had to say about the possible West Side Story remake, and her feelings on the lack of diversity in Hollywood; it felt like we were speaking to our abuelita. Yes, chicas, the legendary Rita Moreno is as amazing as you could have ever imagined.

Check out entire exclusive with the Puerto Rican actress below:

Tell us a little bit about your character Mimi. Such a warm and sassy little bird!

Well that’s exactly what she is! She’s loving, and she’s protective. She’s sassy, and she’s opinionated. And she’s a take-over lady.

Would you say that you’re anything like her? We bet you are!

Yeah, probably. I’m opinionated that’s for sure. [Laughs].

Okay. [Laughs] This cast had so many Latinos – Andy Garcia, Bruno Mars, George Lopez – how does that make you feel coming from a time where there weren’t many Latinos on-screen?

I love it! Are you kidding? I’m so proud! But at the same time I have to remind you that I didn’t get to see anybody [Laughs]. The funny thing when you do voiceover is that everybody works individually. I was so disappointed. I thought, “Oh wow I get to meet Anne Hathaway I know Andy and you know Bruno Mars, wow!” Then I realized I didn’t have scenes with those people. Everybody has their schedule! You know, these are working actors.


Credit: Kevin Estrada/Blue Sky Studios


Right…okay. Now tell us about this show Old Soul we heard you’ve been filming.

Well, I made a pilot for Amy Poehler. She is producing [Old Soul] for NBC and she is [also] writing it. Whether it becomes a series or not remains to be seen. That comes up in a couple of weeks…in May.  It’s got a wonderful cast so I hope it works.

Tell us about your character in this pilot.

The story is about a young woman who just doesn’t get along too well with people her age, so she helps older people out. That’s why it’s called Old Soul. So it’s filled with some very funny older people. My husband is played by Fred Willard. Do you know who he is?

Sure do!

He’s a funny fellow. Richard Benjamin is in it and Ellen Burstyn is in it. Marla Gibbs is in it, too. And the girl who has the lead is one of the players in Orange Is The New Black, Natasha Lyonne.

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