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Rita Moreno To Visit USU

  Actress Rita Moreno has won an Academy Award, a Tony, multiple Emmys, and a Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award. Many adults remember watching her on the children’s program Electric Company.  


"When my mother put me into kindergarten there wasn't a single Hispanic child  in that class, and of course I didn't speak a word of English, so it was a very difficult couple of years...So I grew up thinking that I had very little value," she said. 

While she has appeared off and on again in minor roles, her popularity with the general public seemed to fade after she received an Academy Award for her role as Anita in Jerome Robbin’s adaptation of West Side Story.  The character was one of many she had played that would typecast her as an uneducated, lower income girl without values and morals.  

"Anytime someone was dark skinned...there was I. I was Hawaiian, I was Arabian, I was anything that was dark...That said, I'm not doing that stuff anymore," she said.

For Moreno, it seemed the only way to pull away from portraying women of a certain race and lifestyle was to demand deals that would allow her to be more diverse in her roles. Because she had been recognized by the public and professionals for her work Moreno believed she could continue with a career as an actress no matter the role. That didn’t happen and she found herself building a life as a niche performer with fans who recognized her abilities as a dancer, singer, and performer.  All of the while she carried with her the principles of acceptance and social change.

Those topics--diversity, love, and acceptance--are the basis of a new children’s show that features Moreno as the voice of a grandmother who lives in a busy neighborhood.  Nina’s World follows the daily life of a young girl from Mexico who discovers the wonder of living among a variety of people.  

The concept behind the animated series resonates with Moreno, who will speak in Logan on Oct. 5 about her experiences growing up in America after arriving here from Puerto Rico.  Moreno’s visit to Utah is part of a convocation lecture series at Utah State University and is sponsored by the Caine College of the Arts.