The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes will soon be landing in cinemas, transporting viewers back to Panem for the first time since 2015.


The Hunger Games prequel follows the origin story of Coriolanus Snow (Tom Blyth), exploring the events that led him to become the villainous antagonist fans are familiar with.

Alongside Snow, the only other character fans will recognise from the original films is Tigris (Hunter Schafer).

The rest of the star-studded cast is made up of entirely new faces, including a character played by West Side Story’s Rachel Zegler.

Zegler portrays Lucy Gray Baird, a skilled singer and performer who is chosen as the first tribute from District 12 in the 10th annual Hunger Games, and who is also the love interest for her mentor, the 18-year-old Snow.

But who is Zegler and where have you seen the actress before? Read on for everything you need to know about the star ahead of her turn as Lucy Gray Baird in The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes.

Who is Rachel Zegler?

Rachel Zegler plays Lucy Gray Baird wearing a brown and grey outfit
Rachel Zegler as Lucy Gray Baird in The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes. Lionsgate

Rachel Zegler is an American actress, who made her acting debut as Maria in the 2021 remake of West Side Story, having been cast following an open audition process.

She will appear in The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes as Lucy Gray Baird, a character who director Francis Lawrence previously labelled as the "anti-Katniss".

In an interview with Empire magazine, the filmmaker admitted he was worried about whether or not people who go and watch a Hunger Games film without Katniss as the lead, but found comfort in the fact that Zegler's character is completely different to Jennifer Lawrence’s.

"Katniss was an introvert and a survivor," he said. "She was quite quiet and stoic, you could almost say [she was] asexual. Lucy Gray is the opposite. She wears her sexuality on her sleeve, [and] she really is a performer."

How old is Rachel Zegler?

She is 22 years old at the time of writing.

What has Rachel Zegler previously starred in?

Rachel Zegler plays María wearing a white dress, stood by a bed
Rachel Zegler as María in West Side Story.

Steven Spielberg’s remake of West Side Story marked Zegler’s first on-screen role.

She will also appear as Snow White in Disney's upcoming live-action remake, and bagged a supporting part in Shazam! Fury of the Gods.

What has Rachel Zegler said about The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes?

Zegler’s character brings a melodical twist to the world of the Hunger Games, providing viewers with musical performances – and she sang live on set while filming.

Speaking about why she made this decision, she told press (via "Yeah, I mean, it was kind of my choice to sing live on set. I had done it before on my first film [West Side Story], and I feel really confident in that sphere of performance in general."

She continued: "That was what I kind of came out of the womb doing on stage, so getting to do that for my peers and on set for my crew and the creative team was something really special that I felt like I could bring to the table.

"When you're working on sets like that, or when you're even watching movies, it kind of takes you out of the world when all of a sudden somebody starts lip-syncing and it just kind of takes you out of it."

She added: "So I felt really blessed that Francis [Lawrence] and Nina [Jacobson] trusted me to do that and getting to bring that into the acoustics of The Hob or the stage at The Reaping – and all of the other places I don't want to spoil – that Lucy Gray gets to sing.

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"It just adds a completely different tone to the scenes and I felt like it was really, really important not only to me, but also to the character that I would be doing a disservice if I didn't perform live every take.

"And it was a lot and it was very strenuous, but I trained to do it and I felt really, really confident with the outcome and I hope audiences do too."

Is Rachel Zegler on Instagram?

Yes, she can be found at the handle @rachelzegler. She currently has over 1 million followers.

Is Rachel Zegler on Twitter?

Yes, she can be found at the handle @rachelzegler.

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes is released on 17th November 2023. Check out more of our Film and Sci-Fi coverage, or visit our TV Guideand Streaming Guide to see what’s on tonight.


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