“There’s More Agency Here”: Rachel Zegler Modernizes Snow White

rachel zegler

Although the upcoming live-action adaptation of the Snow White story has been under fire lately for some controversy, so far it sounds like that controversy isn’t going to be affecting the lead character Snow White! Rachel Zegler, who is playing the Disney princess (opposite Gal Gadot as the Evil Queen), spoke on the D23 podcast recently and confirmed that her version of Snow White will be far more progressive than the 1937 original Disney princess.

snow white true love's kiss

The Prince kisses Snow White in the original Disney film ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’. Credit:

“I’ve been pretty open with a very loosely based comment saying that the Snow White from the 19230’s cartoon is very much written in the male gaze for sure,” Rachel said when asked about the role, “and she really is wishing for her prince to come and take her away from the life that she’s living, from her reality”. But in the new movie, Rachel says that “there’s more agency here [and] there’s a lot more active choice making. I really love that about this script. The focus is not on the love story. It’s not on wishing for a prince to come. It’s nothing like that”.

Snow White and her Prince, Disney

Snow White and her prince in ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ Credit: Disney

She also emphasized that a more modern fairy tale without a focus on romance is “something that a lot of young people need to see”.

Even though Snow White is an iconic Disney princess that thousands of girls or women would love to play, Rachel apparently didn’t even know she was in the running to play the Disney princess until partway through auditioning! “They had already seen so many girls,” Rachel remembered during the podcast interview. “I didn’t even know that they were casting…I just got this email [to Zoom] with Marc Webb [the director]”. The movie had a “secretive” nature to its audition process, she added. “Roles were changed on the sides [and there was a] different working title.” It wasn’t until someone accidentally said ‘Snow’ in the audition that Rachel asked, “Is this for Snow White?”!

Rachel Zegler

Rachel Zegler as Maria in ‘West Side Story’, directed by Steven Spielberg Credit: 20th Century Studios

Rachel had to audition for over a year to play Maria in West Side Story (which was directed by Steven Spielberg and just won her a Golden Globe), and she had a long wait time to play Snow White, too. “I waited actually a while to hear back from them,” Rachel said. When she was about to fly across the country for a screen test for the role and had to postpone unexpectedly, she felt certain that she wouldn’t be picked “to play a Disney princess”. But a month later, she got the “unbelievable” news — and celebrated with a trip to Disney, where she yelled, “I’m Snow White” on Snow White’s ride! You can see the footage in her Youtube video below!

Although Rachel says that “we’re not even in the thick of it yet” when it comes to making the Disney movie, she already knows that “the music is fantastic”. Since Rachel also “grew up on Disney films” like The Little Mermaid (which also has its own live-action adaptation coming up, starring Halle Bailey) and her “love of theatre was really born in the musicals that Alan Menken wrote”, it seems like Rachel will be bringing a whole lot of love to this Snow White adaptation and her modern take on the classic heroine!

About Sharon

Sharon is a writer and animal lover from New England. Sharon's two main focuses in her work are Disney's correlations with pop culture and the significance of Disney princesses (which was the basis for her college thesis). When she's not writing about Disney, Sharon spends her time singing, dancing, and cavorting with woodland creatures!

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