You may know Rita Moreno from her performance as the matriarch of a Cuban-American family in the Netflix reboot of Norman Lear’s “One Day at a Time,’’ or perhaps her portrayal of Sister Pete in HBO’s raw prison drama “Oz.’’
But those were only parts of Moreno’s remarkable career, which has stretched over seven decades. The Puerto Rican-born actress is the subject of an “American Masters” documentary, “Rita Moreno — Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It,’’ airing Tuesday at 9 p.m. on GBH 2.
Moreno is one of 16 artists who belong to the prestigious EGOT club. The awards she won to land in that group suggest her wide acting range. Emmys for both “The Rockford Files’' and “The Muppet Show.’’ A Grammy for “The Electric Company’' album. An Oscar for her performance as Anita in “West Side Story.” A Tony for Terrence McNally’s comedy “The Ritz.”
According to press materials, “Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It’' will illustrate how Moreno, who was born on a farm in Puerto Rico and immigrated to New York City when she was young, “defied both her humble upbringing and relentless racism.’’ The documentary will include interviews with the star, and also with Lear and Lin-Manuel Miranda.
When she was honored at Variety’s recent “Power of Women’' event, Moreno recalled “trying to avoid the gangs on my way to school” and later, in Hollywood, “fending off unwanted and terrifying advances from various studio executives.’’
“Given my background, feeling powerful is a significant reality,’’ said Moreno, according to Variety. “Growing up as a young Latina immigrant in a racist and patriarchal society, I honestly couldn’t even imagine what that might have felt like. It was so far out of reach. All I could muster was the inner strength to work toward my dream of becoming a successful actress. But the struggle was a daily reality, and sadly, sometimes still is.’’