The now 21-year-old caused a sensation with Steven Spielberg’s musical “West Side Story”. Now she is taking on the female lead in the prequel film adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ popular book trilogy.

From “West Side Story” to the gloomy “Hunger Games” world: US actress and singer Rachel Zegler (21) has been awarded the lead female role in the planned fantasy saga “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes”.

She will play the girl Lucy Gray Baird, the Lionsgate studio said on Twitter. The Panem novel by Suzanne Collins (German title “The Hunger Games – The Song of Birds and Snakes”) is to be released in cinemas in November 2023.

So far, four films have been made from the original book trilogy, which grossed around three billion dollars worldwide between 2012 and 2015. The girl Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), who lives in the fictional world called Panem, is forced by a totalitarian regime under the power-hungry leader Coriolanus Snow (Donald Sutherland) to fight to the death against youths from other districts.

The new dystopian science fiction novel takes place 64 years before these events and revolves around young Snow, who is supposed to mentor the young fighter Lucy from District 12 in the 10th “Hunger Games”. The Briton Tom Blyth (27, “Scott and Sid”) was recently named for this role.

Zegler caused a sensation with her cinema debut in Steven Spielberg’s musical “West Side Story”. The role of Maria earned her an instant Golden Globe for Lead Actress in a Comedy/Musical in January.