No Oscars invite for Rachel Zegler? Original ‘West Side Story’ star won’t have it

A split image of a woman with long black hair posing in a dress, left, and a man with gray hair in a blue shirt
Rachel Zegler, left, played María in the 2021 adaptation of “West Side Story.” Russ Tamblyn portrayed Riff in the 1961 version of the movie musical.
(Charles Sykes / Invision/Associated Press)

Jets and Sharks rivalry aside, Russ Tamblyn — who played Riff in the 1961 version of “West Side Story” — agrees that Rachel Zegler deserves a ticket to the Academy Awards.

After Zegler, who played female lead María in the 2021 adaptation of the musical, revealed over the weekend that she is not invited to the Oscars this year, Tamblyn gave the film academy a piece of his mind via Twitter.

In “West Side Story,” Riff leads a New York City gang of white men called the Jets, who frequently rumble with Puerto Rican rival gang the Sharks, led by María’s older brother, Bernardo. But Monday, the original Riff was Team María all the way.

“@TheAcademy As a voting member and the original Riff, let me say: it’s your duty to find Rachel a seat at the Oscars,” Tamblyn, 87, tweeted in response to a Los Angeles Times report on Zegler’s Oscar plans.


“She STARS in #Westsidestory which is nominated across the board. When they say representation matters, this is what that means. Please do right by her.”

It’s worth noting that the film academy gives each movie studio with a best picture nominee a certain number of tickets to the Oscars, which the studio can assign however it wants.

Individual nominees and presenters get their own tickets to the show. Zegler, 20, is not presenting, nor did she receive a solo nomination for her big-screen debut as María.

Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story” — which is nominated for seven awards including best picture — was distributed by Disney’s 20th Century Studios. Disney has not responded to multiple requests for comment from The Times.

Rachel Zegler said she’s ‘disappointed, too,’ after revealing she isn’t invited to the Oscars, despite starring in best picture nom ‘West Side Story.’

“Idk y’all i have tried it all but it doesn’t seem to be happening,” Zegler wrote Sunday on Instagram. “I will root for west side story from my couch and be proud of the work we so tirelessly did 3 years ago.

“I hope some last minute miracle occurs and i can celebrate our film in person but hey, that’s how it goes sometimes, i guess. thanks for all the shock and outrage — i’m disappointed, too. but that’s okay. so proud of our movie.”

Tamblyn is far from the only entertainment luminary in Zegler’s corner. On Sunday, “One Day at a Time” co-creator Gloria Calderón Kellett lamented the snub during a “rare time that Latine people have a movie nominated for an OSCAR.”

And “Rutherford Falls” co-creator Sierra Teller Ornelas tweeted, “This may seem like a small papas thing, but all we hear is ‘you folks have no stars to build projects around’. S— like this is how we do that!”

The nominations for the 2022 Academy Awards were announced early Tuesday. Here is the full list of nominees in all 23 categories.

On Monday, “Scrubs” actor Judy Reyes and “Ugly Betty” actor Ana Ortiz called the lack of an invitation for Zegler “BS” and “total bulls—,” respectively.

When asked Sunday by a fan about Zegler’s situation, Ariana DeBose — who is favored to win the supporting actress Oscar for her acclaimed turn as Anita in “West Side Story” — tweeted that she just became aware of the conversation but did not comment further.

See more reactions to Zegler’s Instagram remarks below.