- Rachel Zegler is grateful for the backlash her casting in Snow White received, as it makes her feel invincible against online trolls.
- Initial online criticism was based on misleading set photos that were later clarified.
- Zegler has previously defended fellow Disney star Halle Bailey against similar criticism and emphasized the importance of supporting each other based on race.
Rachel Zegler has opened up about her experiences with online trolls following her casting in Snow White. In a conversation with fellow Disney actor Halle Bailey as part of Variety’s Actors on Actors series, Zegler explained why she is thankful for the backlash she received. She said:
“They make me feel like solid Teflon. That nothing can hurt anymore because they’ve said the worst that can be said. You just say, ‘Thank you so much for this. I have a lot of love in my life, and I’m very thankful.’ We get to do our work and have that speak for itself instead. Choosing thankfulness and gratefulness is choosing peace. As much as you’d like to remind people verbally that being in the spotlight doesn’t absolve you of your humanity – that you’re allowed to have human moments – it doesn’t necessarily do what you want it to do. It fuels them more.”
Last summer, set photos reportedly from Disney’s live-action Snow White movie sparked a wave of online backlash. The film was criticized for “replacing” its seven dwarfs with diverse actors of different races, sizes, and genders. However, it was later revealed the dwarfs will be CGI creations based on the original animated characters, and the photos were actually of stand-ins used for positioning and template shots.
Regardless, Zegler was tagged in many negative posts, prompting her to post her own response. After the actress’ casting was initially announced, she faced a torrent of online abuse due to her race, similar to the backlash Halle Bailey received for her casting as Ariel in The Little Mermaid. Zegler shared childhood photos of herself dressed as various princesses, including Snow White, on Twitter and wrote:
“Extremely appreciative of the love I feel from those defending me online, but please don’t tag me in the nonsensical discourse about my casting. I really, truly do not want to see it. So I leave you with these photos! I hope every child knows they can be a princess no matter what.”
After garnering attention for her lead role in Steven Spielberg’s remake of West Side Story, Zegler went on to secure roles in Shazam! Fury of the Gods and The Hunger Games prequel, A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. She has previously defended Halle Bailey against hurtful race-based comments on Twitter, telling her critics, “If you don’t support my girl Halle, who is the perfect Ariel, you don’t support any of us.” As for Disney’s Snow White, no footage from the final film has been released yet, but it is expected that further criticism will follow its eventual unveiling.