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Disney Fans Slam "Snow White" Star Rachel Zegler for "Hating" the Original

The West Side Story actor leads the upcoming live-action version.

Disney's latest live-action adaptation of one of its animated classics, Snow White, doesn't hit theaters until next year, but some fans of the original are already up in arms. Rachel Zegler, who made her screen debut as Maria in 2021's West Side Story, will star as Snow White in the new movie. The actor has been outspoken about the new spin the adaptation will put on the 1937 animated film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and her comments have angered some fans, who don't think that there's anything "anti-feminist" about that version. Some Disney lovers have even taken to social media to say that the 22-year-old star shouldn't have taken the role if she "hates" the original so much. Read on to find out what Zegler said that's caused such an uproar online and to learn more about the upcoming film.

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Zegler has criticized the original.

As reported by Insider, while attending Disney's D23 Expo in September 2022, Zegler gave a few interviews in which she critiqued the content of 1937's Snow White and hinted at some updates the new version will make. These comments have recently been recirculating on social media.

"The reality is that the cartoon was made 85 years ago and therefore it's extremely dated when it comes to the ideas of women being in roles of power and what a woman is fit for in the world," Zegler told Entertainment Weekly. "So, when we came to reimagining the actual role of Snow White it became about the 'fairest of them all' meaning who is the most just and who can become a fantastic leader."

Similarly, in an interview with Variety, she said, "We absolutely wrote a Snow White that is… She's not going to be saved by the prince. And she's not going to be dreaming about true love. She's dreaming about becoming the leader she knows she can be, and the leader that her late father told her that she could be if she was fearless, fair, brave, and true. So, it's just a really incredible story for, I think, young people everywhere to see themselves in."

She also called out the prince's behavior. "There's a big focus on her love story with a guy who literally stalks her. Weird! Weird! So we didn't do that this time," Zegler told Extra.

She also said she hadn't watched the movie before being cast.

In the interview with Entertainment Weekly, Zegler talked about finding the animated movie too frightening when she was a little kid.

"I was scared of the original cartoon," she said. "I think I watched it once and then I never picked it up again. Like, I'm being so serious. I watched it once and then I went on the ride in Disney World that was called Snow White's Scary Adventure. Doesn't sound like something a little kid would like, was terrified of it, never revisited Snow White again. So, I watched it for the first time probably in 16, 17 years when I was doing this film."

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Fans of the original called her comments "pseudo-feminism."


Just because a woman values something different, does not make her any less valuable. Some women want a career and not marriage. Some women want a marriage or family and not a job. Some women want BOTH. All are to be heard, and seen, and valued. Write stories about ALL women and depict them ALL as valuable and worthy, instead of trying to mold them into one specific image of what you deem worthy. Thank you. #snowwhite #snowwhiteliveaction #snowwhitecontroversy #disney

♬ original sound – Angie | Self Care

Many fans of the classic cartoon have voiced their frustration at Zegler's comments, along with people who take issue with Disney princess characters being critiqued for falling in love.

"I could literally write a PhD thesis on the pseudo feminism that is criticizing Disney princesses," says TikTok user @cosywithangie in a viral video. "Criticizing Disney princesses is not feminist. Not every woman is a leader. Not everyone woman wants to be a leader. Not every woman wants or craves power and that's okay. It is not anti-feminist to want to fall in love, to want to get married, to want to stay at home, to be soft, to be a homemaker. None of these things make you less valuable as a person or a woman."

TikTok user @nuttybutter96 said, "I don't think I've ever seen such a condescending, smug Disney princess ever in my life." They continued, "If this is the way Disney is trying to get women into watching their films, I don't think they're doing it right. Because she made us sound like women only matter if they are hateful of love, hatful of any kind of romance, and we only exist to thrive and be a leader. Which, hey, it is okay if you want to, but not everyone wants to be that."

The new movie has faced additional backlash.

In addition to fans who are bothered by Zegler's comments, the movie has faced other criticism, ranging from racist complaints to concerns about the casting of the characters known as the Seven Dwarfs in the original movie.

When Zegler was cast, she received racist abuse because she is Latina. In response, the actor wrote in a July tweet. "Extremely appreciative of the love i feel from those defending me online, but please don't tag me in the nonsensical discourse about my casting," she wrote. She also shared photos of herself dressed up as Disney princesses, including Snow White, when she was a child. "i leave you w these photos! i hope every child knows they can be a princess no matter what," she wrote.

As reported by The Daily Beast, there has also been conversation about a Snow White set photo that appears to show that the Seven Dwarfs characters from the original were replaced by a diverse group of people of various heights. This led to some people declaring that the movie was too "woke," while others questioned why actors who have dwarfism were not cast.

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Zegler has also shared her excitement about the role.

Rachel Zegler at opening night of "The Shark Is Broken" in August 2023
lev radin / Shutterstock

Not all of Zegler's comments about Snow White have been critiques of the original. She has also expressed her excitement about the new movie. She told Variety that she "cried [her] eyes out" when her name was revealed on the Snow White title card at the D23 Expo. "I just wanted to throw up I was so happy about it," she said.

On Aug. 11, amid the backlash, she retweeted a post in which a fan wrote, "Rachel loves Snow White" along with photos of Zegler posing next to photos of the cartoon Snow White and looking excited about playing the role.

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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