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The Rachel Zegler and Disney’s ‘Snow White’ Controversy: Everything You Need to Know

Rachel Zegler—the up-and-coming actress who won the role of Disney’s Snow White, has been swept up in controversy for months; here’s the full timeline and breakdown of what happened with the actress.

For a while now, the Walt Disney Company has been working on and producing different live-action remakes for fans. What people sometimes forget because of the increased frequency with which Disney has released live-action remakes recently, is that this is a strategy they began employing in the 1990s. In 1994, Disney released The Jungle Book, and in 1996, they released a live-action remake of 101 Dalmatians.

However, no fan can deny that lately, it feels like practically all Disney is producing for audiences is live-action remakes, and in particular, ones that are not always hitting the mark.

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A still from the original Snow White / Credit: Disney

Related: More Misfortune Strikes ‘Snow White’ Actress Rachel Zegler, Reportedly Recast in Film: “We Won”

Disney’s Controversial Live-Action Remakes

Over 22 live-action remakes have been released thus far, including the ones Disney released in the 1990s. Notably, in the 90s, Disney released only two live-action remakesThrough the aughts, that number reduced even more to one. Once the Mouse House figured out that this was a useful business strategy to employ to make money, the live-action remakes began featuring more heavily in the lineup.

Between 2010 and 2023, Disney released eighteen films that were inspired by previously successful animated features. These include the usual suspects like The Little Mermaid (2023), Peter Pan and Wendy (2023), Alice in Wonderland, directed by Tim Burton (2010), The Lion King (2019), and more.

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The Little Mermaid (2023) featuring Halle Bailey / Credit: Disney

Related: Did Disney Cancel the Upcoming ‘Snow White’ Movie with Rachel Zegler?

We also have a confirmed ten more live actions in the lineup for fans to expect, with three of these being released by 2025.

While many of these films have been genuinely appreciated by fans, some are also tired of Disney’s apparent laziness when it comes to constantly releasing films we’ve seen before and not coming up with new and original stories. There are, of course, also those who insist on being racially insensitive toward some of the decisions that Disney is making, accusing the company of “pandering to a woke audience.”

This said, of all of Disney’s films, few have been as controversial as the upcoming Snow White live-action remake featuring Rachel Zegler.


What do we know about Disney’s Upcoming Snow White?

The upcoming Snow White movie (which, due to the SAG-AFTRA strike, is set to be released in 2025) is directed by Marc Webb. The film stars Andrew Burnap as Jonathan (the Prince) and Ansu Kabia as the Hunstman alongside Gal Gadot (the Evil Queen) and Snow White (Rachel Zegler). It also features a screenplay from Greta Gerwig and Erin Cressida Wilson.

Disney also confirmed earlier this year that the seven dwarfs from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs were going to be replaced by seven magical creatures, although per a recent photo Disney shared, it appears that the seven magical creatures are going to be animated through CGI.

Related: Rachel Zegler “Plays Victim” in Recent Apology, Claims She is the “Most Grateful Person Alive”

The Many Controversies Of Disney’s ‘Snow White’ Remake

When it comes to controversies, unfortunately, Snow White has been at the center of many. Rachel Zegler herself has inadvertently caused many of the criticisms the film has faced over the last few months.

Who is Rachel Zegler?

Rachel Zegler is an American actress who is partly of South American, in particular, Colombian descent. She rose to fame after landing the part of Maria in West Side Story through an open casting call from Steven Spielberg and then struck gold when she got the part of Snow White in the upcoming live-action remake from Disney.

For her role in West Side Story, Zegler received a Critics’ Choice Movie Award nomination for Best Young Performer and won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Comedy or Musical.

Zegler is also in the upcoming film The Hunger Games: Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, in which she plays Lucy Gray Baird.

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First look at the upcoming live-action remake of Disney’s ‘Snow White’ / Credit: Disney

When it comes to controversies surrounding Snow White, many spoke out against Rachel Zegler, who is partly of Colombian descent, playing a character named Snow White. Many considered Zegler to be an inappropriate choice for the role, similar to Halle Bailey in The Little Mermaid

However, while this was certainly a questionable critique of the movie and actress, Rachel Zegler has also inadvertently stuck her foot in her mouth while promoting the film. She has now become the target of many fans’ frustration due to her comments about the Snow White remake.

Zegler has spoken to Variety stating that in this version, Snow White is not going to be saved by the prince, and she’s not dreaming of true love. Rather, she’s dreaming of the leader her father always told her she could be. Zegler also implied that the role of the prince could be entirely cut from the movie.

Read More: Who Needs Disney Princes Anyway?

In addition, Zegler also faced some backlash on social media for her comments about compensation during the SAG-AFTRA strikes with many calling out the actress for sounding incredibly entitled.

Since all of these controversies, Zegler has come out and apologized as well, although her apology was not particularly sympathetically received, with many positing the actress was simply “playing the victim.”

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Disney princesses Cinderella and  Snow White / All Images Credit: Disney

In addition to this, Snow White also faced much backlash on social media for its changing of the seven dwarfs to the seven magical creatures (although, as we noted before, that seems to have reverted back to seven animated dwarfs). Some felt that Disney was giving up important parts of the narrative just to make a woke audience happy. Many from the dwarfism community also felt Disney was depriving them of good opportunities for acting.

However, on the other hand, Disney was also criticized by actor Peter Dinklage for having dwarf characters. He shared on a podcast, “You’re progressive in one way, but then you’re still making that [expletive] backward story about seven dwarfs living in a cave together? What the [expletive] are you doing, man? Have I done nothing to advance the cause from my soapbox? I guess I’m not loud enough.”

At the same time, actor Dylan Postl called out Dinklage for his hypocrisy. Postl shared, “So it’s not a progression at all to me…There are actors, dwarf actors, that dream to be in a major motion picture such as this Disney remake. And now, because Peter Dinklage said what he said last year, now, it’s taken away. And it’s taken because of ‘progression.’ It’s not right because these are roles made for actors of my stature, roles that aren’t ever really given.”

Is Rachel Zegler Right About Disney’s ‘Snow White’?

Needless to say, there’s a lot that’s been said about a movie that at this point, isn’t even coming out for another year and a half. However, all of this press begs the question, who is right in their frustrations and criticisms of the Disney live-action remake of Snow White?

Rachel Zegler and the crowd that agrees with her, or those who oppose her views? For a Disney actress to have been at the center of this much attention is certainly not in line with how the Mouse House likes to conduct its business. Having an empowered Disney princess is certainly productive for many young girls who see these characters as role models.

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Cinderella Castle, Magic Kingdom Park, Walt Disney World Resort / Credit: Disney

On the other hand, it’s no secret that Zegler could have phrased a lot of her comments with more tact and class, without necessarily putting down the classic Disney fairytale Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). This said, whether fans are happy or not, Zegler is the live-action remake’s Snow White, and it’s time we all got on board.

This said, with Disney needing to delay the release of Snow White due to the strikes, it might mean that the Mouse House is learning and making changes that will make a lot of frustrated fans very happy. Perhaps Disney has finally learned their lesson—only time will tell.

This post originally appeared on Disney Fanatic

Priyanka Kumar

Priyanka is a writer, artist, avid reader, and travel enthusiast based in Chicago. In her free time, she is probably walking by the lake, catching up on the latest releases on TV, or spending inordinate amounts of time rewatching Moana, Encanto, and her Disney Channel life-long favorites Zack and Cody wreak havoc on the Tipton.

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