Rachel Zegler to Star in “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes”

It’s (hunger) game on for Rachel Zegler

The 21-year-old half-Colombian American Golden Globe-winning actress/singer and West Side Story star has joined the cast of The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, the highly anticipated prequel to Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games

Rachel Zegler,Zegler is joining the Francis Lawrence-directed film in the lead female role of Lucy Gray Baird.

She joins recently announced Tom Blyth, who’s playing the young Coriolanus Snow, that role made famous by Donald Sutherland in the original trilogy.

Years before he would become the tyrannical President of Panem, 18-year-old Coriolanus Snow is the last hope for his fading lineage, a once-proud family that has fallen from grace in a post-war Capitol. With the 10th annual Hunger Games fast approaching, the young Snow is alarmed when he is assigned to mentor Lucy Gray Baird, the girl tribute from impoverished District 12. But, after Lucy Gray commands all of Panem’s attention by defiantly singing during the reaping ceremony, Snow thinks he might be able to turn the odds in their favor. Uniting their instincts for showmanship and newfound political savvy, Snow and Lucy’s race against time to survive will ultimately reveal who is a songbird, and who is a snake.

“When you read Suzanne’s book, Lucy Gray’s emotional intelligence, physical agility, and fiercely powerful, determined singing voice shine through. Rachel embodies all of those skills – she is the perfect choice for our Lucy Gray,” said Nathan Kahane, president, Lionsgate Motion Picture Group.

“Like everybody, I first saw Rachel Zegler in West Side Story, and like everybody, I knew I was watching a star who would command the screen for a generation,” said Lawrence. “Lucy Gray is a perfect match for her as an actress: the character is bold, independent, and defiant, but also vulnerable, emotional, and loving. Rachel will make this character unforgettable.”

“Lucy Gray is an incredibly complex character, a performer who has to use every skill in her arsenal to survive. Our casting team, Deb Zane and Dylan Jury, spearheaded an exhaustive search, reading hundreds of actors in search of our perfect Lucy Gray. That search ended when Rachel Zegler blew the roof off with her depth and breadth of talent as an actor, singer, and performer. Rachel is utterly compelling; just like Lucy Gray, her voice and charisma command the stage while her inner strength and humanity transform those around her,” said Hunger Games producer Nina Jacobson.

Lionsgate recently announced that the prequel will hit theaters around the world on November 17, 2023.

The entire Hunger Games franchise has grossed more $3 billion worldwide.

Lawrence previously helmed The Hunger Games films Catching Fire, Mockingjay Part One, and Mockingjay Part Two. Jacobson is producing with her partner Brad Simpson, along with Lawrence. Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins, Tim Palen, and Jim Miller will serve as executive producers.

The latest draft of the screenplay is by Michael Lesslie, who is building on the work of Collins and Michael Arndt. The screenplay is based on Collins’ bestselling novel.

Zegler was lauded with Best Actress wins from the National Board of Review and the Golden Globes for her turn as Maria in Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story. She is next set to appear in DC Comics’ Shazam! Fury of the Gods alongside Zachary Levi, Helen Mirren, and Lucy Liu, which debuts in December.

She is currently filming the title role in Disney’s live action Snow White, directed by Marc Webb.

UFC Star Diego Sanchez to Fight Donald Cerrone This Spring

Diego Sanchez is set to battle a former teammate…

The 39-year-old Mexican American professional mixed martial artist and Donald Cerrone, two of the biggest fan favorites in UFC history — and a pair of former teammates — will fight this spring.

Diego Sanchez

Sanchez and Cerrone have verbally agreed to a May 8 contest, according to ESPN.

The bout will be contested at welterweight, sources said.

While both fighters’ respective teams have agreed, no contracts have been signed and the fight has not yet been officially announced.

Sanchez wrote Thursday on Twitter that the bout against Cerrone will be his “UFC finale.”

Sanchez and Cerrone were training partners for many years at the storied JacksonWink MMA gym in Albuquerque, New Mexico, but had a falling out in 2018 when Cerrone left the team. Sanchez has since left JacksonWink MMA, as well.

In 2005, Sanchez (30-13) in 2005 was the first-ever tournament winner on “The Ultimate Fighter” reality show, which is credited with helping take the UFC to the next level in terms of popularity. His 2009 fight with Clay Guida was inducted in the UFC Hall of Fame’s fight wing in 2019.

Sanchez is tied for the second most Fight of the Night bonuses in UFC history (7). The New Mexico native is coming off a loss to Jake Matthews at UFC 253 in September, but has won three of his last five fights.

Cerrone (36-15, 2 NC) is a surefire future UFC Hall of Famer and one of the best fighters of all time who has not held a UFC title. “Cowboy” owns the most wins in UFC history (23), the most finishes in UFC history (16) and the most post-fight bonuses in promotion history (18). He is tied for the most UFC fights with Jim Miller (36). Cerrone, 36, is winless in five straight and trying to pick up his first victory since May 2019.