American Masters Presents Exclusive U.S. Broadcast Premiere of Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It October 5 on PBS in Honor of Hispanic Heritage Month

TCA Panelist Bios

Air date: 10/05/2021

American Masters — Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It  


TCA Panelist Bios 


Rita Moreno 

EGOT-winner, film subject 


Rita Moreno has won all four of the most prestigious awards in show business: an Oscar, a Tony, two Emmys and a Grammy. Her countless credits span more than seven decades, beginning with her Broadway debut at age 13. Moreno has starred on Broadway and London’s West End, appeared in more than 40 feature films and countless television shows and has performed in numerous regional theaters including her one-woman show, “Life Without Makeup” at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre. Moreno recently co-starred in the critically acclaimed Latinx reimagining of Norman Lear’s classic sitcom One Day At A Time. Moreno also co-stars and is an Executive Producer of the Steven Spielberg remake of “West Side Story,” scheduled for December 2021 release. Moreno headlines as a guest artist with symphony orchestras as well as performs lectures and speaking engagements around the country. 

Recipient of the Peabody Career Achievement Award and the Kennedy Center Honor for her lifetime contributions to American culture, she was also honored by her peers as the 50th recipient of the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award. She recently served as Grand Marshal of the Rose Parade and the National Puerto Rican Day Parade. Moreno’s first all-Spanish language album, “Una Vez Más,” was produced by her good friend Emilio Estefan and she is a New York Times bestselling author with her first book, “Rita Moreno: A Memoir,” published by Celebra Books. Moreno has received the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush and the National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama. 

Mariem Pérez Riera 

Director and producer  


Born in Puerto Rico, Mariem Pérez Riera is a director, producer and editor. At age nine, she performed in the leading role of the movie “The Two Worlds of Angelita.” It was after that experience that she decided to become a film director.  

Her first documentary “Cuando lo pequeño se hace grande,” about the Puerto Ricans who fought against the U.S. Navy presence in the island of Vieques, was awarded Best Documentary at the Havana International Film Festival and the Los Angeles International Film Festival. In 2007, Riera co-directed her first feature film, “Maldeamores,” executive produced by Benicio Del Toro, which won several international awards.

She has also produced and directed other acclaimed documentaries, including “De Puerto Rico Para El Mundo,” “Diez En La Muìsica” and Suncoast Emmy-winner Croatto, La Huella De Un Emigrante. 

She obtained her B.A. in Film Direction from the University of Miami and continued her education in documentary cinema with a degree in Continuing Studies from New York University; she also studied at the International School of Film and Television (EICTV) in Cuba. She founded Maramara Films, a production company dedicated to creating independent films, documentaries and digital content with a focus on marginalized groups, specifically women and the Latinx community. She lives in Los Angeles.   

Michael Kantor 

American Masters Executive Producer 


Michael Kantor joined American Masters as the series’ executive producer in April 2014 and founded its theatrical imprint, American Masters Pictures, in January 2016. American Masters Pictures premiered three films at Sundance Film Festival in 2021: Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For ItAmy Tan: Unintended Memoir and Ailey.  Recent American Masters programs include Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool, Toni Morrison: The Pieces I AmSammy Davis, Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me,Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story, Raúl Juliá: The World’s a Stage and Laura Ingalls Wilder: Prairie to Page. An Emmy- and Peabody Award-winning filmmaker, Kantor’s PBS series include Broadway: The American Musical (hosted by Julie Andrews), Make ‘Em Laugh (hosted by Billy Crystal) and Superheroes (hosted by Liev Schreiber), and he co-wrote the companion books for each series. He served as executive producer of Give Me the Banjo with Steve Martin and distributes the American Film Theatre series, including Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance starring Katharine Hepburn and Chekhov’s Three Sisters with Laurence Olivier. Kantor serves as a Tony nominator and oversees the American Masters Podcast.