Rita Moreno: 'Living The Moment' 82

'We'll get there' the SAG life achievement honoree says about diversity in showbiz

“I’m 82,” Rita Moreno kept mentioning in her backstage remarks after receiving her SAG Awards life achievement kudo.

Nobody bought it. She’s too vivacious, too electric and way too sharp to be an octagenerian. But yes, it’s true — the calendar doesn’t lie. Moreno is now turning down Broadway gigs because she wants to spend more time with her grandchildren.

“If you don’t know that’s what life is about when you’re 82, well …,” Moreno said. She noted that it would have been nice if the life achievement honor came about 10 years ago, when she could have capitalized more on the recognition.

SEE ALSO: Rita Moreno Speaks Out On Sexism, Ageism, Racism

But that’s life, she said, repeating her philosophy for how she’s managed to look so good for so long: “Living in the moment. Smell the roses. Smell the coffee. Whatever it is that makes you happy.”

Moreno was clearly touched by the recognition from her peers. So much so that she went out and spent her own money on a Roberto Cavalli gown topped with a “biker chick jacket” that was complete with “burnished gold studs.”

“I may be the only person here who paid for this stuff,” she said. “I think it looks pretty good on me. It doesn’t make me look like I’m trying to look too young.”

Moreno has long been a pioneer among Latina performers on stage, TV and film. She credited “perseverence” for her success, and she quoted her old friend Ricardo Montalban on the subject of how to increase diversity in Hollywood.

“The door is ajar,” she said. We have to open that door. We’ll get there.”

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