Tinker Bell Actress Defends Disney Casting Amid Backlash

disney casting backlash

Two upcoming Disney movies have been at the center of entertainment news recently—The Little Mermaid and Peter Pan & Wendy. The former will see a theatrical release in May of this year, and the latter will be released directly to streaming in April. Both films have one notable thing in common—Disney cast a Black actress as a formerly white character. And this casting choice has sparked much outrage and backlash among Disney fans, whether because they believe it was the wrong choice or because others believe these fans are racist because of their views.

Disney Under Fire for Casting, Again

Read More: ‘Little Mermaid’ Round Two? Disney’s Casting Decision Sparks Outrage

Last year, the Black actress who plays Princess Ariel in The Little Mermaid remake shared her views on the subject. Halle Bailey commented that she was incredibly grateful to have the opportunity and underscored how much it would have meant to her to have seen a Black Ariel on the big screen as a young girl. Bailey also reiterated this sentiment on the release of the new Little Mermaid merchandise recently.

The Little Mermaid remake features Halle Bailey in the lead role, with Melissa McCarthy as Ursula the sea witch, and Jonah Hauer-King as Prince Eric, it features new music by Lin Manuel Miranda and is directed by Rob Marshall.

Princess Ariel from The Little Mermaid and Tinker Bell from Peter Pan

Princess Ariel from The Little Mermaid and Tinker Bell from Peter Pan / Courtesy of Disney

Now, Tinker Bell actress Yara Shahidi has also spoken out about the backlash Disney has received for casting her in the role. Shahidi told The Hollywood Reporter,

What’s been beautiful is seeing the response to both of our characters and seeing how many people feel included in this fairy tale, while also maintaining the magic that we love in the first place.

Shahidi also continued that often, “people think of diversity and inclusion as threatening or jeopardizing the quality of the story, instead of seeing how beautifully they can be interwoven together to create something that impacts even more people,” and allows more people to be let into the story.

halle bailey little mermaid ariel

Shahidi is most well-known for her performance as 14-year-old Zoey Johnson in Black-ish and is currently working on the ABC spin-off of the show, Grown-ish. She won an NAACP Image Award in the category of “Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy” in 2014 for her work on the show.

About Priyanka Kumar

Priyanka is a writer, artist, avid reader, and travel enthusiast based in Chicago. In her free time, she is probably walking by the lake, catching up on the latest releases on TV, or spending inordinate amounts of time rewatching Moana, Encanto, and her Disney Channel life-long favorites Zack and Cody wreak havoc on the Tipton.

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