DeBose first rose to fame as a contestant on “So You Think You Can Dance,” before landing roles in Broadway shows such as Motown the Musical,” “Pippin,” “Hamilton” and “Summer: The Donna Summer Musical.” As Anita, DeBose plays the girlfriend of Bernardo, the leader of the Puerto Rican gang the Sharks who are at odds with the white American gang the Jets.
The new Spielberg film is a direct adaptation of the original Broadway musical of the same name, not a remake of the Robert Wise-directed 1961 film. In that project, Rita Moreno played the role of Anita, taking home an Oscar for best supporting actress; however, she will also return in Spielberg’s new film as Valentina in addition to serving as one of the film’s executive producers.
Other cast members include Ansel Elgort (Tony), Rachel Zegler (Maria), Ana Isabelle (Rosalia), Corey Stoll (Lieutenant Schrank), Brian d’Arcy James (Officer Krupke) and Curtiss Cook (Abe).
Spielberg is directing and producing the film from a script by Tony Kushner, which retains the story’s 1957 New York setting.
Last month, the studio also released a first-look image of the film’s rival gangs.
“West Side Story” is set to hit theaters December 18, 2020.