The 28-year-old actress will be playing the character of "Anita" in Spielberg's upcoming adaptation of West Side Story

By Matt McNulty
July 13, 2019 04:30 PM
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NIKO TAVERNISE/ Twentieth Century Fox

Ariana DeBose is playing Anita in Steven Spielberg’s upcoming West Side Story, and Twentieth Century Fox just revealed her first look as the iconic character.

In Spielberg’s adaptation, Debose, 28, will play the girlfriend of Bernardo, who is the leader of the Puerto Rican street gang the Sharks. In the iconic Broadway musical and film, Bernardo’s gang is at war with the street gang, the Jets, set in New York City in 1957.

DeBose rose to fame as a contestant on So You Think You Can Dance, and eventually hit the Broadway circuit, landing roles in Hamilton, Motown the Musical and Summer: The Donna Summer Musical.

Ariana Debose
Courtesy Ariana DeBose

The role of Anita was originally played by Rita Moreno in the first film adaption of the play, which earned Moreno an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Moreno will serve as an executive producer on Spielberg’s film and will also play the character of Valentina.

Spielberg’s adaptation is based on the Broadway musical, and not a remake of the 1961 film of the same name.

Twentieth Century Fox

An image of the Sharks and the Jets facing off was released by the studio last month.

Stars Ansel Elgortand Rachel Zegler portray Tony and Maria, the star-crossed lovers who originate from the Broadway musical, as well as the original film remake in 1961.

In the photo, Elgort, 25, and Zegler, 17, lock eyes and hold hands, with the rival gangs of Jets and Sharks behind them on the streets of New York in 1957.

Among those pictured are: Jets members Anybodys (Ezra Menas), Mouthpiece (Ben Cook), Action (Sean Harrison Jones); Jets leader Riff (Mike Faist); Baby John (Patrick Higgins); Maria’s brother and Sharks leader Bernardo (David Alvarez); and Sharks members Quique (Julius Anthony Rubio), Chago (Ricardo Zayas), Chino (Josh Andrés Rivera), Braulio (Sebastian Serra) and Pipo (Carlos Sánchez Falú).

West Side Story hits theaters on December 18, 2020.