(CNN)Like everything other she's done, Rita Moreno is an exceptional storyteller, turning "Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It" -- an "American Masters" documentary hitting theaters archetypal -- into a dazzling look astatine the much-adorned star's career, and the doors near shut, contempt her success, by being a Latina successful Hollywood during the days of the workplace system.
Moreno is successful the prime radical EGOT winners -- radical who person earned an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony. Now 89, she's introduced successful the movie astatine a enactment celebrating her 87th birthday, offering a speedy objection of what a unit of quality she remains. (She besides remains outspoken, having waded into the controversy implicit "In the Heights" portion appearing connected Stephen Colbert's program.)
As for her accomplishments -- including an Academy Award for "West Side Story," and a relation successful its upcoming remake from Steven Spielberg -- shaper Norman Lear, who featured Moreno successful his reboot of "One Day astatine a Time," says, "I can't deliberation of anyone I've ever met successful the concern who lived the American imagination more."
Yet arsenic manager Mariem Pérez Riera's crisply made movie makes clear, for the small miss who moved from Puerto Rico to New York with her parent arsenic a child, fulfilling that imagination meant overcoming each the impediments thrown astatine her, and enduring the indignities that went with being an histrion of colour -- adjacent 1 who consciously sought to lucifer Elizabeth Taylor erstwhile she auditioned arsenic a teen -- during those years.
Moreno met with workplace mogul Louis B. Mayer astatine property 16, impressing him capable to onshore a workplace contract. But those years came with being "treated similar a enactment object," arsenic she recalls, which included being sent connected "pretend dates" with actors by the studio's publicity section and being formed successful an assortment of "native girl" roles that prompted her to cleanable an all-purpose accent.
"I wanted to crook the parts down, but that's each that was offered," Moreno says, noting that the connection from her bosses came done "loud and clear: Shut up and beryllium sexy."
Being sexy besides meant being crudely propositioned by Columbia Pictures brag Harry Cohn (fleeing a enactment to debar him) and, she says, being raped by her cause -- a communicative she shares portion watching sum of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings successful 2018, snapping tart commentary astatine the TV.
Unlike Rita Hayworth, who masked her taste identity, Moreno turned it into an plus with "West Side Story," though adjacent her acclaimed relation successful that movie didn't unfastened the floodgates arsenic 1 mightiness person expected. The paucity of worthwhile parts forced her to support reinventing herself, from her Tony-winning signifier relation successful "The Ritz" to TV enactment ranging from children's bid "The Electric Company," whose medium earned her a Grammy, to the grim situation play "Oz."
Off screen, Moreno engaged successful activism that included the civil-rights question and endured a lengthy and toxic romance with Marlon Brando. Clips from her relation other Brando successful the 1969 movie "The Night of the Following Day" instrumentality connected a antithetic hue proceeding her sermon their dysfunctional narration and the affectional scars she bore from it.
Produced by, among others, Lear and "Hamilton's" Lin-Manuel Miranda, "Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It" conveys the highs and lows of Moreno's life, portion featuring an astute lineup of talking heads, including academics, peers similar "West Side Story" co-star George Chakiris and Karen Olivo, who played the Anita relation connected Broadway. Those conversations see the battles inactive being fought -- underscored by the "In the Heights" colorism debate -- arsenic good arsenic the grade to which consequent generations beryllium a indebtedness to Moreno's struggles and triumphs.
The nett effect is simply a tribute to each that Moreno achieved implicit the people of a 70-year career, tempered by an arsenic bittersweet asterisk: How precocious would this "girl" person flown, fixed her talents, without facing those formidable headwinds?
"Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It" premieres successful theaters connected June 18.