Actress Talisa Garcia is set to star in the Disney+ series “Willow,” marking the first known openly trans star to be cast by Disney, according to Deadline.
“Willow” is a TV spinoff of the 1988 fantasy classic directed by Ron Howard. Garcia will play a queen and mother to Tony Revolori’s character, who participates in a quest to rescue a prince at the order of his twin sister princess. Per the report, Garcia’s role is a small speaking part and may only appear in one episode. “Willow” is a Lucasfilm production.
Garcia’s casting reportedly makes history with her portraying a cis character in a Disney-owned project. Chilean-born British actress Garcia previously worked on BBC thriller “Baptiste” and Starz’s “The Girlfriend Experience.”
Garcia previously told The Independent that her gender affirmation surgery at age 18 had “always been a secret” before coming out in 2019.
“I was a bit embarrassed, I suppose, of not being a ‘normal’ woman,” Garcia said at the time. “I don’t expect everyone to accept me, and there’s nothing wrong with it if people don’t, as long as we’re all civil to each other.”
In 2021, Oscar-nominated “Raya and the Last Dragon” featured Patti Harrison as the first known trans star to voice a character in a Disney animated movie. In 2019, Zach Barack became Marvel Studios’ first trans actor, appearing in “Spider-Man: Far From Home.”
According to Deadline, Disney+ is also looking to cast a transgender actress in the upcoming series “Ironheart.”
The news comes after Walt Disney Co. was slammed throughout the month of March for financially backing Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which was recently signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis. Disney faced backlash after it was revealed that the conglomerate funded the bill’s backers, including DeSantis. Disney employees criticized the controversial political effort to ban teaching sexual orientation or gender identity in Florida elementary schools, as well as CEO Bob Chapek’s response to their outcry. A walkout protest took place March 22 with a faction of Disney employees.
Disney CEO Bob Chapek apologized for the political stance and vowed to be a “unifying force” through “inspiring content” to represent the LGBTQ+ community onscreen.