Actress Rachel Zegler, who is set to make her breakthrough lead performance later this year in Steven Spielberg’s remake of West Side Story, already has her next gig lined up — and it’s another big one.
The half-Colombian newcomer has been cast as the iconic Disney princess Snow White in a live-action remake of the 1937 animated classic Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. The casting of Zegler makes it the first time Disney has tapped a Latina to portray one of its princesses in a live-action movie.
The Snow White remake will be directed by Marc Webb (The Amazing Spider-Man) and reportedly go into production sometime next year. The original, animated film tells the story of a fair-skinned princess who befriends a group of dwarfs in the woods after a jealous, evil queen orders a huntsman to kill her. When the queen poisons the princess, she falls into a deep sleep and can only be awakened by the kiss of a prince. No other cast members have yet to be announced.
Social media was buzzing Tuesday morning (June 22) when news of Zegler’s casting became official. Twitter users were observing that not only was Zegler the first Latina to play a Disney princess in a live-action film but that she was also playing Disney’s first-ever princess — a character that hit the big screen over 80 years ago.
Along with the excitement, there were also objections to her casting, given the character’s origins in Germany, and some users even shockingly questioned whether she was “fair enough” for the role. Zegler addressed the conversations around her skin color in a now-deleted tweet. “Yes i am snow white no i am not bleaching my skin for the role,” she wrote on Tuesday afternoon.
The film’s director spoke out on Zegler’s casting, praising the young actress. “Rachel’s extraordinary vocal abilities are just the beginning of her gifts,” Webb said in a statement. “Her strength, intelligence, and optimism will become an integral part of rediscovering the joy in this classic Disney fairytale.”
Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, the duo behind the songs in The Greatest Showman, are set to write new songs for the live-action movie. Along with Zelger’s upcoming role in West Side Story, she is currently shooting the superhero sequel Shazam! Fury of the Gods.