What makes Power of Women honoree Rita Moreno feel powerful?

“The ability, which I didn’t have for many years, to say no,” Moreno says. At her Variety Uncovered shoot, presented by Lifetime, the actor elaborates on what else gives her a sense of empowerment. “To say, ‘I’m sorry, I don’t like that’ or to say, ‘I’m sorry, I don’t like you.’ Oh my god that just gives me the shivers. My mamma said, ‘Men are the bosses, men are the kings. You be nice to them and you do what they say.’ But I’m not doing anything they say if I don’t like it.”

Even though Moreno says it took her years to find that strength, her storied career as an activist, philanthropist and actor has been inspiring others for decades. Who could forget her Oscar-winner portrayal of “West Side Story’s” Anita? Alas, despite this trailblazing win in 1962, she’s still the only Latina to win best supporting actress.

What does that lack of diversity mean to Moreno? “It means that we haven’t gotten very far … we haven’t moved as much as we would like to. We want to, but it hasn’t happened yet. I shouldn’t be the only one.”

Moreno may be turning 90 in December, but the actor dreads the thought of being typecast as a woman over a certain age. “Why should I have to play a grandmother simply because I’m old? Can I be a lawyer? A scientist? So far, the answer is … not so much,” she says wistfully. “Hollywood suffers in a profound way from ageism.”

Read Moreno‘s full Power of Women profile.