Rita Moreno Breaks Stigma Around Mental Health In Her New Documentary



I’ve always viewed Rita Moreno as an iconic Puerto Rican actress who paved the way for so many Latinx artists that I admire. After watching the documentary of her life, Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It, I saw her as more than just an actress — I saw her as a mental health advocate. 

During the documentary, 89-year-old Moreno not only opens up about the misogyny and racism she endured, but she also candidly speaks about her battle with depression, suicide, sexual assault and the importance of taking care of her mental health. 

In a new article for Pero Make It Newsy, I talk about the stigma around therapy in the Latinx community and how Moreno broke that stigma by seeking help when she needed it the most. 

“I believe in [talking about mental health] so much. Therapy is something that really saw me through some horrible times in my life, particularly things having to do with prejudice and bias. I don’t think I could’ve done it on my own. I didn’t know enough. I didn’t know who I was. At the time, I thought I was somebody who was unworthy. But some instinct said, ‘No, I think you’re better than that. You need help,’” Moreno said during an interview with BuzzFeed. 

Rita Moreno was born in Humacao, Puerto Rico, to Rosa María, a seamstress, and Francisco José “Paco” Alverío, a farmer. She was nicknamed “Rosita”. 

Moreno’s mother moved her to New York City in 1936 where “Rosita” began her first dancing lessons. She had her first Broadway role—as “Angelina” in Skydrift—by the time she was 13, which caught the attention of Hollywood talent scouts.

Her career has spanned over 70 years; her notable acting work includes supporting roles in the musical films Singin’ in the Rain (1952), The King and I (1956), and West Side Story (1961), as well as a 1971 to 1977 stint on the children’s television series The Electric Company, and a supporting role as Sister Peter Marie Reimondo on the HBO series Oz from 1997 to 2003. Her other notable films include Popi (1969), Carnal Knowledge (1971), The Four Seasons (1981), I Like It Like That (1994), and the cult film Slums of Beverly Hills (1998).

Moreno is one of the few artists to have won all four major annual American entertainment awards: an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony. She is also one of 23 people who have achieved what is called the Triple Crown of Acting, with individual competitive AcademyEmmy, and Tony awards for acting; she is only one of two artists who have achieved both distinctions. 

The latest issue of everyone’s favorite Latina curated newsletter is out today and also dives into topics like Britney Spears’ conservatorship and the barriers many gymnasts of color are currently facing today. Puppy columnist Princess Party Time also has a new post about her new favorite sweet treat: pup cups!

Readers can check out this week’s issue at Pero Make It Newsy. As always, be sure to sign up to receive new articles and a fresh newsletter every Wednesday!

Publisher’s Note: CTLN and Pero Make It Newsy are partners in best serving the Hispanic, Latino, Latinx community of New England.