Yara Shahidi Speaks on Backlash After Being Tapped to Play Tinker Bell in Disney’s Latest Live-Action Film

by Xara Aziz
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Yara Shahidi has been tapped to play Tinker Bell in Disney’s latest live-action film Peter Pan & Wendy, becoming the first Black woman to do so.

The black-ish star recently dished about the significance of playing the role, stating that she was drawn to accept the part after Disney executives and the film’s director decided that they would reinvent the movie, which was originally produced in 1953.

“They wanted to bring some new fun to this classic but also give us the fairy tale we deserve,” Shahidi told Byrdie magazine in their recent cover story. “It’s evident they’re not just popping Black and Brown folks in the cast for the sake of updating the story. Instead, it’s about creating a story that so many more people can see themselves in after we’ve been left out for so long.”

The 23-year-old Minneapolis star further detailed the backlash she experienced when it was announced that she would be starring in the upcoming film – backlash she says she faced specifically because she was Black.

“I think oftentimes 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, that lets even more people into stories that we love,” she explained to The Hollywood Reporter in a recent interview.

But despite the recoil behind her portrayal of Tinker Bell, she is excited that the movie will celebrate diversity and allow people to “feel included in this fairy tale.”

Disney’s recent announcement of Shahidi playing Tinker Bell comes on the heels of backlash her fellow Grown-ish co-star Halle Bailey faced when she was selected to play Ariel in the highly-anticipated Disney remake of The Little Mermaid. After some expressed displeasure of her playing the role she was quoted as saying that “As a Black person, you just expect it and it’s not really a shock anymore.” 

Peter Pan & Wendy is scheduled to premiere on Disney+ April 28.  The film is set to premiere on Disney+ on April 28.

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