While West Side Story launched actress Rita Moreno into mainstream superstardom, there is no thing about the experience that she regrets.
The 87-year-old recently spoke to the Associated Press and revealed that her skin was actually darkened to play the role of her Puerto Rican character, Anita, in the 1961 classic. “Puerto Rico was colonized by the French, the Dutch and the Spanish and so we are many colors,” the Oscar-winner said. “I am one and I really resented it when they put very dark makeup on me because that’s not my color.“
She added that she “thought the Sharks [a gang in the film] should have all their own natural colors. Some were dark, some were copper skin, some were fair.” The dancer recalled the time she voiced her concerns to the makeup artist. “I remember one time saying to the makeup man who was making me up, ‘I really hate this color because this isn’t the color I am,’” she said. “And he actually said to me, ‘What, are you racist?’”