Rita Moreno

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Rita Moreno in 2011

Rita Moreno (born Rosa Dolores Alverío December 11, 1931) is a Puerto Rican actress, dancer and singer.



  • It got me roles. And you know, for a while, that was wonderful — I was in the movies. But after a while I began to understand that it was really very demeaning. And I began to feel more and more and more diminished. I was already very unsure of myself anyway, because when I was a very young girl in New York City I ran into an awful lot of racial bias, and I got called some pretty nasty names, like 'spic' and — all the words you heard in West Side Story came directly from the streets — 'garlic mouth,' 'pierced ear.' So by the time I was doing those kind of roles — for a living, practically, in Hollywood — I was beginning to feel pretty bad about myself.


  • If you have been traumatised from the time you were a child to believe you were a ‘spic’, that you were a garlic-mouth, that you are not worthy, it takes a long time to get rid of that. That’s why therapy so often takes so long, because you’re trying to get rid of that trash before you can deal with the you that wants to get better. I went into therapy wanting to get better, knowing that in some way I had a sickness. And the sickness was Rita hates Rita.
  • I think that some people are genetically just strong. I really believe that my mom was like that. On the other hand, maybe you're forced to be that way because you realize you're either going to sink or swim, and the choice you make determines the kind of person you become…
  • What I say to my gente [people] is to hang on, and to remember who they are, be proud of who they are, and keep talking. And keep complaining, and just don't ever — don't give up. That's always been my motto anyway. My motto has always been "persevere" — perseverancia. And that's what we need to do.
  • I think part of the reason is because, unlike the black community, we don’t mainly come from America. We come from all kinds of countries and we’ve siloed ourselves rather than supporting each other, as we should have. We still think of ourselves as Argentinian or Puerto Rican or Mexican rather than Hispanic. Until we get over that and become one big wonderful community, we’re still going to have problems.
  • I've always had this image of this strong, sprightly person who is undaunted by anything; on the contrary, I was one of the shyest, most unsure people you ever met in your life. But I have one very specific quality: I'm plucky. I really am. I would say that's a perfect description of my personality. I am able to get up and dust myself off and keep moving forward. I'm very stubborn. I never knew that about myself. But I realize how stubborn I am when I look at all the terrible things that happened to me and how I just get up and keep going.
  • He didn’t like the raucous side of me and I love that side of me. I think I’m funny as hell and I think I’m cute and I think I’m mischievous. I know I’m mischievous. And that’s the kind of thing he discouraged, and that makes me very sad, because he was missing out on something pretty wonderful about me…You know, I think I owe an enormous debt to psychotherapy. Without that, I wouldn’t be the Rita you know and love.
  • I have a great sense of humor about aging, and I think I’m one of the funniest people I know when it comes to aging, because I misplace stuff and I drive everyone crazy looking for the house keys or something. Once, I couldn’t find my purse, and I upended the car, upended the house. I could not find that fucking purse. And then two days ago, I opened the cabinet in the kitchen where all the doggie stuff is, and guess what? I had put it in there. I started laughing so hard, I nearly peed. I couldn’t stop laughing. I thought, You silly bitch.
  • The first time I saw myself on a movie screen, I was disappointed because I didn’t look outrageously beautiful. It’s not that I looked ugly. It’s just that I had these funny notions of how you’re supposed to look when you’re in the movies. You’re supposed to look like Elizabeth Taylor, who was my idol. Guess what? I didn’t look like her. And my voice sounded very high, which indeed it was. So I was thrilled and at the same time, I was somewhat disappointed. But I thought, I can work on my voice. I can make that better.
  • It never occurred to me when I was 10 years old that I was going to end up representing an entire—not just community, but nationality. That’s not something I ever thought of, because I wasn’t a political person then. But I was forced to become one because of the circumstances. At some point, I discovered that a lot of people were suffering unnecessarily. I really started to understand that everyone has a responsibility to others and to a community, that you are not the only person in the world you simply represent, whether you like it or not.

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