Dolly Parton Joins Controversial ‘Snow White’ Rachel Zegler

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Dolly Parton (left) appearing on the Disney Channel and Rachel Zegler (right) in Disney's live-action Snow White film

Credit: Both images Disney

Acclaimed musician and entertainer Dolly Parton is beloved by millions around the world, including actress Rachel Zegler.

Dolly Parton has become a cultural icon when it comes to being a music superstar and philanthropist. Born in 1946 in the Tennessee countryside, she started rocking the country music scene in the late ’60s and became a total legend. Dolly’s got an incredible voice, a unique look, and a personality that’s hard not to love. Her songs like “Jolene” and “I Will Always Love You”  are like old friends – they never get old and speak to everyone, no matter their age or music taste. She’s inspired tons of artists over the years in all kinds of music genres.

Dolly Parton Dollywood
Credit: Dollywood

But Dolly’s not just about the tunes. She’s also taken the movie world by storm, appearing in flicks like 9 to 5 (1980) and Steel Magnolias (1989). Her acting skills are just as fantastic as her singing, and she’s brought laughter and tears to audiences worldwide. Dolly set up the Dollywood Foundation, which started the Imagination Library – a program giving free books to kids, helping them fall in love with reading and learning. Dolly has also proven to be successful in business ventures, running things like Dollywood, her own theme park and resort area, and Dolly Records.

Dolly has become an icon, beloved by just about everyone. And, then, on another side of the spectrum is Rachel Zegler.

Rachel Zegler has her fair share of supporters, but there’s no doubt that the actress has become about as “controversial” as anyone, especially over the last several months. Zegler is set to play the role of Snow White in Disney’s live-action version of the 1937 animated fairytale, but changes from the company and comments from the actress have given her an enormous amount of backlash.

Rachel Zegler as Snow White in Disney's live-action version of Snow White
Credit: Disney

In comments about the movie, Zegler shared that it was “not 1937 anymore” and that Snow White would not be saved by a prince. As a matter of fact, reports have indicated that there won’t even be a prince in this retelling. Instead, the male figure– played by Andrew Burnap— will be named Jonathan. Gal Gadot will play the Evil Queen.

“It’s no longer 1937,” Zegler said. “She’s not going to be dreaming about true love, she’s dreaming about becoming the leader she knows she can be.”

These comments have promoted backlash from a large group of fans, many of whom have dubbed the new telling “woke.” Though Disney shared a first look at the movie last week, the company also announced that it would be delaying the film a full year. However, this isn’t the only project that Rachel Zegler is involved in, and though there is much backlash surrounding the actress stemming from Snow White, there actually is excitement mounting for another film set to be released soon.

Rachel Zegler's Lucy in the Hunger Games prequel
Credit: Lionsgate

Zegler is set to play the role of Lucy Gray Baird in the upcoming Hunger Games prequel, titled Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (2023). Zegler and her co-stars have been given an interim agreement through SAG-AFTRA, which will allow them to promote the new movie, which is set to be released on November 17, 2023.

In a recent interview, however, it was revealed that Dolly Parton actually played as the inspiration for Zegler’s character in the movie, essentially giving the actress a clear look at what she needed to pull off when playing the role.

“We talked a lot about Dolly Parton as an inspiration of somebody whose goal is to entertain and there’s nothing didactic about her,” Producer Nina Jacobson said. “She wants everybody to feel that her music is made for them, that this song is for you. So we wanted, in Rachel, somebody who could make every person in the audience feel like, ‘She’s singing this song to me,’ and what it feels like for someone like Snow to know, ‘She actually really is singing this song to me.”

Rachel Zegler in The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes
Credit: Lionsgate

Jacobson shared that Zegler fit the role perfectly and gave a performance that was exactly what they were looking for, in relation to the comments about Dolly Parton.

“But being able to find somebody, and Rachel who could deliver that and yet bring the rawness and not flip the switch and go to, like, show tune mode, but actually really that this is her music, that she’s written this music, and that this is the music that embodies her experience,” she said.

What do you think of this Dolly Parton inspiration for Rachel Zegler? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments!

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