Legendary Rita Moreno known for Broadway's West Side Story and TV's The Electric Company was the official commencement speaker for Northeastern Illinois University on May 11.
Moreno, 83, is one of the few to have earned an Oscar, an Emmy, a Tony, a Grammy ( those four awards making for an "EGOT" ) and a Golden Globe. She was awarded an honorary doctorate degree at the university on the same day, but stated she ironically did not graduate high school. It was a busy day for Moreno, as she was chosen to be the grand marshal for the upcoming Puerto Rican Day parade in New York next month.
During a press conference earlier in the afternoon, she told Windy City Times that she would love to do more with her one-woman show, Life Without Makeup, including possibly performing in Chicago. However, she added it is time spent away from her daughter and grandchildren: "I am at the third act of my life and the thought of being away from them more than two months is a very hard thing to do, yet it breaks my heart because it is a good play. A series would be nice because it keeps me in California."
She just did a sitcom for Warner Bros. with upfronts in L.A. She has kept busy with voiceover work for a new Sprout show called Nina's World, about a Mexican family, as well as recently guest-starring on the CW's Jane the Virgin as Rogelio's mother.
Moreno explained how grateful she is for the honor of speaking at the sold-out commencement ceremony and that it fills her with pride. "Until I was invited to this event I had no idea how allied the university is with Hispanic community," she said. "This is just fabulous."
She joked that sometimes fans call her Rita Moreeno by mistake or even Chita Rivera. "That's show business!," she said.
Photos and text by Jerry Nunn