By Julie Jordan•@juliejordanc and Ale Russian
Rita Moreno may have just turned 85 a month ago, but she’s not looking to slow down anytime soon!
The legendary actress is starring in Netflix’s reimagining of Normal Lear’s One Day at a Time with a Latin twist: This time around, the plot centers on a Cuban-American family with an Army vet mother that takes on major themes from today’s world.
Lear’s involvement as an executive producer is exactly what got Moreno on board for the new show. “He’s a remarkable man. He’s 94 and he said, ‘Look, we can be peers,’ ” the actress tells PEOPLE before adding that she “loved the fact that we are a Cubana family.”
And although the family may be Cuban, Moreno says she loves the fact that the show is able to balance that without excluding any non-Latin viewers: “The Latin part of it doesn’t leave anybody out. We happen to be a Cuban family, but it doesn’t leave anybody out because they aren’t also Hispanic. The balance is absolutely brilliant.”
The Oscar winner for her role as Anita in the 1961 film West Side Story is hitting her mid-80s in stride and not looking to take any breaks anytime soon. “The moment we finished our 13th episode, I had one week off. And then I went on tour doing cabaret and lectures,” the actress reveals.
Moreno says she decided to go on the tour right after filming because she saw the positive effect filming and having to memorize lines was having on her mind and health. Where she would sometimes struggle to find words, she realized that they came easier to her after so much reading through the 13-episode filming schedule.
“I found that I stopped searching for words,” she recalls. “What amazes me is what they say is absolutely true, even more in a way than exercise, is engaging your brain. I’m telling you, when I do my cabaret act or do my lectures, people are just standing up in wonder saying, Wow! How do you do that? And I say, engagement!”
Quips Moreno, “I should be a representative for AARP!”