Stage, film and
television star Rita Moreno comes to UNCP
by Sheri Sides
only woman to win an Emmy, Grammy, Tony and Oscar, Rita Moreno, spoke
March 11 at the Givens Performing Arts Center as
part of UNC Pembroke's Distinguished Speaker
Moreno began with
the story of how her mom wanted her to have a better life than she had,
so she brought Moreno to the U.S. from Puerto Rico. She didn't speak
any English, but she got a job and raised Moreno on her own.
Moreno talked about
what she knows well, the history of movies, television, and theater.
She has found success in all three areas.
"In the beginning,
the motion picture industry was not a stable business," Moreno
said, "and the only people willing to take the risks were immigrants."
Without any experience
in the field, those immigrants started the major movie studios including
Universal Studios, Columbia and Warner Brothers.
motion pictures were first taking off, actors were owned by the movie
studios and told what films to do, Moreno said. "Sometimes actors
were loaned out to other studios for high prices and the actors never
saw any of that money."
Despite the downside
to the movie business, Moreno stuck with it and urged other young people
to live their dreams too. She also Moreno praised and criticized the
"When I see
the violence, sex and profanity on television I'm discouraged,"
Moreno said, "but when I think of a little girl on the poor side
of town sitting in front of the TV counting to 10 with 'Sesame Street,'
I am more hopeful."
also pointed out that TV has raised awareness on important social issues.
has educated people about health issues like AIDS and breast cancer,"
Moreno said. "It's shown us the civil rights movement, the war
in Vietnam and Watergate."
Moreno hopes television
will elevate us in ways not yet known. Moreno says theater is the best
medium for winning audience involvement.
the moment the curtains open, you're one with the cast, not like TV
or movies can give," Moreno said. "Theater makes the audience
part of the event."
Moreno has played
a variety of roles, breaking the mold of the stereotypical Latino roles
that she portrayed in her early years.
Her role as Anita
in the movie "West Side Story" won an Academy Award and paved
the way for her later work in movies and television. In television,
she's best known for her role as a streetwise nun in the HBO series
most recent Broadway appearance is in the London production of Andrew
Lloyd Webber's "Sunset Boulevard."
A small but appreciative
crowd of 200 attended Moreno's speech.
UNC Pembroke wraps
up this year's Distinguished Speaker Series with Pembroke native Kelvin
Sampson, a nationally recognized basketball coach at the University
Sheri Sides is
a junior journalism major at UNCP.
to University Newswire