Why was Rachel Zegler not invited to the Oscars?

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 07: Rachel Zegler premieres at Disney Studios' Los Angeles premiere

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 7: Rachel Zegler attends Disney Studios’ Los Angeles premiere of “West Side Story” at the El Capitan Theater on December 7, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff / WireImage)

Steven Spielberg’s dazzling spin on the classical musical West Side Story won seven Oscar nominations this year, including Best Picture. Its Maria – breakout star Rachel Zegler – would hardly be present at Sunday’s ceremony.

It was not until 24 Hours Plus of outrage from fans and media reinforcements after Zegler’s social media revealed that she was not invited to the Oscars that a report on Tuesday indicated that the actress has been offered the opportunity to be a presenter. (The Academy did not respond to Yahoo for comment.)

“Can’t wait to see what you want on us Oscar night,” one person wrote Sunday on a collection of photos that Zegler has shared on Instagram. “I’m not invited so jogging pants and my boyfriend’s flannel,” Zegler wrote back. Worse was that the actress had apparently lobbied to attend, presumably through West Side Story ‘s distributor Disney. “I’ve tried it all, but it does not seem to be happening,” she added.

So why was the co-leader of one of the academy’s most nominated films on the Oscars guest list to begin with?

There are a number of different factors at play.

Most obviously, Zegler – unlike co-star Ariana DeBose, who has proven to be the big favorite to win best supporting actress for her exciting tour as Anita – was not even nominated.

She could also have been exposed to the incident from the pandemic, with a smaller capacity than usual. The Oscars return to their usual home at the Hollywood Dolby Theater on Sunday after last year’s truly intimate ceremony inside a makeshift ballroom in downtown Los Angeles Union Station. But not all of the venue’s 3,300 seats will be used to promote social distancing, with 2,500-2,600 guests reported this year.

Rachel Zegler and Ariana DeBose in 'West Side Story' (20th Century Studios)

Rachel Zegler and Ariana DeBose ind West Side Story. (Photo: 20th Century Studios)

Nominees, of course, get the first dibs – two tickets per nomination, which means more nominees like Jane Campion (The power of the dog) and Kenneth Branagh (Belfast) can bring more guests. While West Side Story the film is ready for best film, the tickets (and Oscar statues if it should pull out of it The power of the dog and CODA) go to its main producers, Spielberg and Kristie Macosko Krieger. Presenters and performers also receive a few tickets, as do representatives from the show’s television company ABC, sponsors and the media.

What’s most surprising about Zegler’s snub is that Disney did not include her in the wider block of tickets that each nominated studio can afford. Though like Time points out that these tickets often go to “managers and other significant people in the organization.”

And according to The wrappingDisney did not want to jeopardize the production schedule for their upcoming live action Snow white adaptation that Zegler is currently filming in London. As The Hollywood Reporter shared Tuesday, efforts are now being made to rearrange the film’s shooting schedule to allow Zegler to travel to Los Angeles for the Oscars.

Zegler, who has not yet confirmed she will present this weekend, thanked her fans for the support Twitter Sunday. “We live in unprecedented times, and a lot of work behind the scenes goes into making film magic happen. It’s about film productions (like the one I’m so lucky to record in London at the moment) … and awards. Let’s everyone just respects the process and I drop my phone. “

Zegler’s public plea to attend the Oscars is rare, but not without precedent. In 2016 Just out of Compton ‘s cast and producers (including NWA members Ice Cube and Dr. Dre) revealed they were not invited to the ceremony. In that case, however Just out of Compton had been rejected in the category of best film and received only a single nomination for best original screenplay. “I never used to go anyway, you can not boycott anything you never went to anyway,” Ice said on Graham Norton Show. “We do not make films for the industry. We make films for the fans, for the people.”

In 2018, Go out stage thief Lil ‘Rel Howery told Jimmy Kimmel that he had not been invited to the Oscars either – despite the film, such as West Side Story, which receives a nomination for best film. “Well, that’s what I thought I was,” Howery explained to the host late at night. “You know, we called today and were looking for my ticket. And they said, ‘You’re not in the first group.’ So the first tickets they give out, I’m not on that list.” (Although it is unknown if his public outcry played a role, Howery eventually secured a ticket.)

Maybe it’s a coincidence, but optically, it’s not a great look that Oscar’s three most high-profile invitation filths in recent years have all involved colored. That Compton cast and Howery are black, while the Latina-identifying Zegler is of Colombian and Polish descent. It does not help either Compton ‘s only nomination (and thus ceremony tickets) went to screenwriters Andrea Berloff and Jonathan Herman, who are both white.

As Zegler is named presenter, Disney may want to thank the academy for saving them from even worse press after waves of it in recent weeks. The company and its CEO, Bob Chapek, have been under fire from employees for their passivity regarding Florida’s controversial “Don’t Say Gay” law, while a report from Variety revealed that the studio censored same-sex acts in Pixar movies.

The Oscars have not exactly been on a winning streak recently either. The academy has received a huge setback for their decision not to broadcast more of the categories below the line live during the broadcast, a recently added social media-driven “fan favorite” stunt gives rise to embarrassment, and presenters announced yesterday such as DJ Khaled and Tony Hawk were generally received with a collective “huh?”

Zegler would have made far more sense as a presenter right from the start.

Watch our interview with the cast from West Side Story:

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