Career Achievement Award: Rita Moreno, presented by Mercedes-Benz
Powerhouse performer Rita Moreno has forged a vibrant career spanning seven decades and several mediums, starting with her breakthrough role as Anita in 1961’s West Side Story. Whether she was charming children as a regular on The Electric Company, entertaining the theater crowd with her award-winning work in Broadway’s The Ritz, or reaching streaming audiences as the tough matriarch Lydia on the Netflix reboot of Norman Lear’s comedy series One Day at a Time, Moreno has consistently endeared herself to American audiences of all stripes. With her effervescent presence, she is now one of the most recognized and respected Latinx performers in the history of television and film.
The Puerto Rico-born actress shattered culture and color barriers in the pre-Civil Rights era, becoming one of the few artists of color to reach mainstream audiences on the big screen, the stage, and in their living rooms. Over her 70-year career she has consistently knocked down barriers for generations of Latinas and women of color with her undeniable talent, boundless energy, and stubborn perseverance.
Born Rosa Dolores Alverio in Humacao, Puerto Rico, Moreno began acting at an early age and by her teens was landing small roles in film and on Broadway. By her 31st birthday, she had become the first Latina to win an Oscar for best supporting actress for her role in West Side Story. A versatile artist who could dance, sing, and tackle comedy and drama, Moreno’s multi-faceted talents found her working with directors such as Mike Nichols, performing alongside Marlon Brando, Jack Nicholson, and James Garner, and winning Emmy awards for guest appearances on The Muppet Show and The Rockford Files. Moreno also played a nun on Oz, the HBO cable series that kicked off the peak TV era.
Moreno has used her celebrity status to raise awareness around issues that affect her community, including diabetes and heart disease. In 2017, she contributed to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s song “Almost Like Praying,” the proceeds of which went to benefit Puerto Ricans affected by Hurricane Maria.
Moreno already has reached EGOT status, one of only 11 people to have received the four major entertainment honors—Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony awards. Now she will add a Peabody Career Achievement Award to her collection—the first Latinx performer to do so—in celebration of a stellar career that doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. Rita Moreno, thank you for 70 years of inspirational performances, and congratulations on your PEGOT.