Rachel Zegler and Halle Bailey Abruptly Speak Out After Multiple Disney Boycotts

in Disney, Entertainment

Rachel Zegler and Halle Bailey

Credit: @liveaction_snowwhite (left) Disney (right)

It seems like two of Disney’s most controversial actresses are teaming up in a very unlikely way.

Disney has been getting hit hard lately in the entertainment department after their financial goals have not been met, film after film.

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

In 2023, the Walt Disney Company marked its centenary, anticipating a celebratory year with several high-profile projects poised to make a significant impact at the box office. However, the reality proved less rosy, as several films, including Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania and Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, fell short of expectations, and others like Haunted Mansion and The Marvels turned out to be outright flops. Only Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and Elemental can be considered successes for the studio. Now, with the failure of Wish, Disney is looking to turn things around, as Disney CEO Bob Iger said.

This challenging year represents a stark contrast to Disney’s box office dominance in 2019, and the company is grappling with the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, still in the process of recovery. The once-unassailable Disney brand now bears the visible cracks of a challenging period. This assessment explores the factors contributing to Disney’s recent struggles and speculates on what the future might hold for the entertainment giant.

Halle Bailey as Ariel in live-action The Little Mermaid
Credit: Disney

Some Disney fans have accused Disney of becoming too “woke” as they move towards a more inclusive landscape. The initiative is strung across from their Disney Parks to the Walt Disney Company’s content, from movies to series on Disney+ and theatrical releases.

Disney recently introduced the Reimagine Tomorrow initiative, acknowledging past missteps with the statement, “We haven’t always got it right.” As part of this initiative, changes were implemented in the cast member dress code, allowing greater self-expression at work. Additionally, ongoing efforts to address cultural sensitivity include the development of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, a new Princess and the Frog attraction replacing Splash Mountain’s scenes with racist undertones related to the Song of the South IP. Furthermore, alterations to the storyline of Jungle Cruise at both Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort aim to eliminate instances of cultural appropriation.

A close-up of the Tiana's Bayou Adventure exterior model at night
Credit: Disney

We have seen more LGBTQ+ representation in parks with Pride Nite at Disneyland, as well as on-screen with Strange World. That being said, all of these efforts to diversify Disney have some fans unhappy with the direction of the company.

Two of the most controversial casting efforts Disney has made as of late, however, come from The Little Mermaid, and Snow White — both of Disney’s live action films (although Snow White will not release until 2025). Disney has been making quite a few live action films as of late. From Cinderella to Beauty and the Beast to Aladdin and more, Disney has been making a lot of money through the re-telling of their animated classics.

One thing Disney had never done until The Little Mermaid, however, is change the appearance of the lead characters. For example, Emma Watson looks similar to Belle, Mena Massoud looks like Aladdin, but Halle Bailey did not look like Ariel, and some did not like that.

Live-action 'Little Mermaid' shot
Credit: Disney

Some were thrilled to see Ariel being portrayed by a Black actress, as it allowed Black children to see themselves in character, while others felt it disrupted the nostalgia that these live actions are meant to bring. Hashtags like #NotMyAriel went viral, and many began boycotting Disney for the overall direction that the company was taking.

Since then, Disney has not wavered in its decision to show more diversity in its live action films.

Rachel Zegler’s casting as Snow White faced criticism, particularly concerning her Latina heritage and the deviation from the animated character’s appearance. The initial announcement of the film hinted at major changes, including the absence of Prince Charming and the replacement of dwarfs with magical creatures.

Snow White looking scared
Credit: Disney

However, due to backlash, there are indications that characters resembling the seven dwarfs might be reintroduced. The controversy intensified with Zegler’s statement about Snow White assuming a leadership role, emphasizing a departure from the traditional fairy tale narrative. The film’s delay to 2025 suggests Disney’s reconsideration amid the ongoing debate about the substantial alterations to the classic Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs story.

Critics argue that the portrayal of Snow White as a leader represents a significant departure from the beloved character’s original depiction, sparking discussions about the film’s feminist stance and accusations of Disney being “woke.”

In the past, we have seen both actors support each other, Zegler responded to a hate Tweet about Bailey stating, “if you don’t support my girl halle, who is the perfect ariel, you don’t support any of us.” Bailey replied to a Tweet of Zegler’s as well, stating, “we love you so much truly the perfect princess.”

Now, the two are sharing the cover of Variety (@Variety)

Halle Bailey & Rachel Zegler
Full conversation out Thursday.

The two will have their interview released on Thursday, December 7, 2023, and it will certainly touch on the hardships both actresses have felt since portraying their respective Disney princesses. Both films have undergone “boycotts” and rumors of the actresses being replaced occurred in both instances — now that the strike is over, the two can speak out while supporting each other.

For now, we can see that the two are banning together in support against those who have been slandering their names.

Are you a fan of Rachel and Halle’s casting by Disney?

View Comment (1)