Yara Shahidi Responds To Being The First Black Tinker Bell

in Entertainment, Movies

Yara Shahidi and tinker bell

Disney’s latest unwanted reboot, Peter Pan and Wendy will feature the first live-action black Tinker Bell, portrayed by actress Yara Shahidi.

Black Tinker Bell
Credit: Dinsey

When asked about the role by the Associated Press in a recent red-carpet interview, Shahid responded, “it’s so beautiful.”  The actress isn’t focusing on the negativity surrounding the casting but instead embracing the positive feedback from people who get to see a fairy that looks like them.

Shahidi also shared her excitement about the Barbie doll release of Tinker Bell from Mattel. She took to Instagram today to show off the new toy.

Yara Shahidi's Instagram showing off her Barbie
Credit: Yara Shahidi’s Instagram

Related: Halle Bailey’s Version of Ariel May Replace Traditional Character at Disney World

While Shahidi is tickled pink about the role, some riled-up Disney fans have been upset about the casting choice. People on Twitter have already attacked the film by saying, “Disney couldn’t care less about making new stories with POC characters.”

However, there has long been an outrage for casting choices from movie fans whenever a person of color portrays a character who was originally white in a reboot or updated adaptation. The argument usually is, “Why can’t they just make up their own stories and create new characters?” The simple answer; they have, but you’re not watching them.

Peter Pan & Wendy (2023), Tinkerbell closeup
Credit: Disney

New diverse stories in the film are being recognized more than ever, with Everything Everywhere All At Once (2022) even sweeping at the Oscars. But if people of color had to wait for the next original story inspired by their own culture, they probably would be missing out on many roles.

ke huy quan at oscars
Credit: ABC

Hollywood still hasn’t completely switched over to focusing primarily on stories that aren’t about white people. And not to mention, the industry is still primarily white. A breakdown by Insider reported that 89% of nominations at the Oscars in the past decade went to white people.

This year’s Oscars is a big win for diversity, with both Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor going to two Asian actors, something that has never been seen before. This a small dent in the long history of Hollywood primarily awarding white people. Doors could begin to open for storytellers to new original stories, allowing more actors of color to portray new roles.

Shahidi playing Tinker bell, and Halle Bailey in The Little Mermaid (2023), isn’t an insult to the original characters or even an insult to black actresses. Instead, it’s a natural outcome of the lack of representation over the past decades in popular storytelling.

If upset fans really want to see people of color play “original characters” in “original stories,” then right now would be a good time to support those types of films. Once more opportunities begin to unlock for diverse voices in Hollywood, then you can guarantee there will be more original, diverse characters, and there will be more POC-winning Oscars as well.

tinker bell yara

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But until then,  a black actress playing a made-up fairy will be just as special. Or “beautiful,” as  Shahidi would say.  Peter Pan and Wendy will be streaming on Disney+ on April 28, 2023.

How do you feel about this casting choice? Let Inside The Magic know in the comments.

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