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‘Peter Pan & Wendy’ Actress Responds to Backlash Over Tinker Bell Casting

yara shahidi, a black woman, as tinker bell in a green dress of leaves, black curly bun, wings, and blowing gold pixie dust between two hands

Yara Shahidi doesn’t have the time or the energy to worry over criticisms of Peter Pan & Wendy, in which she will play the first Black version of Tinker Bell.

The Disney+ live-action film hits streaming on April 28, 2023, but not everyone is so excited for this return to the second star on the right. After releasing the first trailer last month, Disney has faced heat from Peter Pan purists who object to Shahidi playing the role of Tinker Bell, previously a white, blonde-haired, blue-eyed pixie inspired by visual model Margaret Kerry.

Yara Shahidi - IMDb

Credit: IMBD

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Although angry “fans” use this racial bias to accuse the Walt Disney Studios of being “too woke,” the actress recently spoke on the moviemakers’ actual motivations behind her casting and the unique perspective she believes to bring to Tink. The actress stars in the sitcom Grown-ish alongside African American singer-songwriter-performer Halle Bailey, who herself has recently come under fire after being cast as Ariel in 2023’s live-action The Little Mermaid.

Unfortunately, the pushback against Black actresses in lead roles previously occupied by white performers surprises neither of them, but this element of reimagining the classic J.M. Barrie novel and 1953 animated film is exactly what appealed to Yara. In fact, she said that director David Lowery and his team “wanted to bring some new fun to this classic but also give us the fairy tale we deserve.”

Yara Shahidi's Tinker Bell, Jude Law's Hook debut in Peter Pan and Wendy trailer

Credit: Disney Plus

RELATED: Move Over ‘Peter Pan’: Diverse Cast Floods Disney Live-Action Trailer

Moreover, Shahidi disagrees with accusations that Disney is randomly substituting actors of color on the basis of being more “modern” or “politically correct,” but rather choosing the most qualified actor to represent their character regardless of skin color, which in turn helps to increase representation for minority communities who have historically been left out of the media. Watch the trailer below:

In the Hollywood Reporter, she spoke of “creating a story that so many more people can see themselves in” and celebrating her chance to create a more inclusive fairy tale through her character rather than focusing on the naysayers who assume that “diversity” will jeopardize the quality of the story.

Peter Pan & Wendy | Disney+

Credit: Disney

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Additionally, when the film debuts next month, it will feature Alexander Molony as a South Asian Peter, Ever Anderson as Wendy, Alyssa Wapanatâhk as Princess Tiger Lily, and a racially diverse group of children, male and female in the roles of Lost Boys.

 

 

 

 

About Spencer Johnette

Spencer is a lifelong lover of theme parks, princesses, and Disney history that recently relocated to Northern California. She completed her undergraduate studies at UCLA, where she was the founder and first president of the campus Disney Club. A former Cast Member still mourning the loss of the Disney Store, she now haunts the Walt Disney Family Museum halls and shares her opinions with anyone who will listen @gothelsflower.