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Rachel Zegler Recalls How ‘All of the People Were Angry’ at Her ‘Snow White’ Casting

The "West Side Story" star recalled the backlash at her Disney casting, saying, "We need to love them in the right direction."

Rachel Zegler at arrivals for WEST SIDE STORY Premiere, El Capitan Theatre, Los Angeles, CA December 7, 2021. Photo By: Priscilla Grant/Everett Collection

Rachel Zegler

Priscilla Grant/Everett Collection

“West Side Story” breakout star Rachel Zegler skyrocketed to fame, but not without a race-driven backlash.

Following the news of Zegler being cast in the titular role for Disney’s upcoming live-action “Snow White” film, newcomer Zegler described the social media backlash she endured.

“When it was announced, it was a huge thing that was trending on Twitter for days, because all of the people were angry,” Zegler said during Variety‘s Actors on Actors discussion with Andrew Garfield.

As for haters, Zegler advised, “We need to love them in the right direction.”

The upcoming “Snow White” remake is being directed by Marc Webb, and co-stars Gal Gadot as the Evil Queen.

“Never in a million years did I imagine that this would be a possibility for me,” Zegler said of joining the iconic film franchise. “You don’t normally see Snow Whites that are of Latin descent. Even though Snow White is really a big deal in Spanish-speaking countries. Blanca Nieves is a huge icon whether you’re talking about the Disney cartoon or just different iterations and the Grimm fairy tale and all the stories that come with it. But you don’t particularly see people who look like me or are me playing roles like that.”

Zegler continued, “At the end of the day, I have a job to do that I’m really excited to do. I get to be a Latina princess.”

The latest “Snow White” project was previously was called out by Peter Dinklage earlier this month on January 24, who criticized a seeming double standard.

“I was a little taken aback when they were very proud to cast a Latina actress as Snow White. You’re still telling the story of ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.’ Take a step back and look at what you’re doing there,” Dinklage said on Marc Maron’s “WTF” podcast. “It makes no sense to me. You’re progressive in one way and you’re still making that fucking backwards story about seven dwarfs living in a cave together, what the fuck are you doing man? Have I done nothing to advance the cause from my soapbox? I guess I’m not loud enough.”

Dinklage added he would approve of the film “if you tell the story of ‘Snow White’ with the most f—ed up, progressive spin on it,” saying, “Let’s do it. All in.”

Disney officially responded with an official statement on January 25.

“To avoid reinforcing stereotypes from the original animated film, we are taking a different approach with these seven characters and have been consulting with members of the dwarfism community,” a Disney spokesman told The Hollywood Reporter. “We look forward to sharing more as the film heads into production after a lengthy development period.”

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