Chilean-born English actress Talisa Garcia (Baptiste) has become the first trans actor cast by Disney in a Lucasfilm production.
She has joined the upcoming Disney+ series Willow, based on the 1988 fantasy film of the same name, which was directed by Ron Howard. Currently, in post-production, Willow follows a princess named Kit (Ruby Cruz) who sets off on an adventure to rescue her twin brother.
According to Deadline, Garcia will play a queen and the mother of one of the characters who joins Kit on the quest. Although the role is small, the casting of Garcia marks the first time a trans actor will portray a cisgender character in a Disney+ project.
News of Garcia’s casting comes at a complicated time for Disney, who has recently been called out for the way it responded to Florida’s controversial “Parental Rights in Education” bill, which critics have labeled the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
The bill limits discussions about sexual orientation and gender identity for students “in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.” It also allows parents to sue school districts if the policy is not followed.
Despite Disney’s initial lukewarm response to the bill, the studio seems to be moving the needle when it comes to casting LGBTQ talent. Along with Garcia, Disney cast Patti Harrison as the first trans actor to voice a character in an animated Disney movie. She played chief of the Tail in Kumandra in the Oscar-nominated film Raya and the Last Dragon. Disney also cast Zach Barack as Zach Cooper, a classmate in Spider-Man: Far from Home.