Rachel Zegler Defends New Snow White Film From Politically Correct Backlash

Rachel Zegler is speaking out against critics dismissing her role as Snow White as part of a "politically correct" agenda.

By Vic Medina | Published

Rachel Zegler is taking on critics who think her role in Disney’s upcoming live-action adaptation of Snow White is another example of political correctness gone awry. In an interview with Vanity Fair, Zegler addresses the backlash to her casting head-on, embracing the PC label being used to denigrate the film, insisting “it needed that.” Zegler also addressed the challenges of taking on two culturally significant roles in such a short time, having made her film debut in 2021 playing Maria in Steven Spielberg’s remake of West Side Story.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, while the internet didn’t take kindly to Disney insisting on “updating” Snow White for a modern audience, Rachel Zegler saw it as necessary. “People are making these jokes about ours being the PC Snow White, where it’s like, yeah, it is – because it needed that,” she said, adding “It’s an 85-year-old cartoon, and our version is a refreshing story about a young woman who has a function beyond ‘Someday My Prince Will Come.'”

The criticism and fan backlash against Rachel Zegler and the film has been two-fold. Disney has an uneven history with its live-action reboots, with some fans claiming they offer nothing new, and are merely money-grabs for nostalgic moviegoers. Others claim the reboots are pushing a social agenda by recasting white roles with minority actors, insisting the character of Snow White should only be played by a character with literal “snow white” skin.

rachel zegler
Rachel Zegler in West Side Story (2021)

That sort of criticism puts actors like Rachel Zegler in an unenviable position. Fighting to be considered an equal with other actors, regardless of her ethnicity, often means any statement she makes will be twisted once it makes the rounds on social media. Indeed, saying Snow White “needed” a PC upgrade and won’t need a prince will likely trigger an avalanche of YouTube videos from critics ready to insist the classic film needed no changes to conform to modern expectations.

After the release of West Side Story, Rachel Zegler’s film debut, much of the criticism of whether she was hired merely for her skin color seemed to subside. It is hard to deny that her singing voice is fantastic and a perfect fit for the role, something director Marc Webb insisted was the motivating factor when she was cast in June of 2021. The controversy surrounding the film itself, however, remains, and is now focused on a different issue: the supporting cast of characters.

The film is also under fire for its depiction of dwarfs, and the criticism is coming from an unlikely place: Hollywood itself. Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones) slammed the “f***ing backward story” about dwarfs living in a cave together. Although Rachel Zegler didn’t address that Snow White controversy, Disney did, saying they have hired consultants from the dwarf community and will take a “different approach” to the characters, which will all be CG-animated.

Rachel Zegler will be joined by Gal Gadot, who will play the Evil Queen. Andrew Burnap will be playing the male lead, although Disney will not make him a prince. It’s a move to depict Snow White as a more independent woman, one who no longer has the sole ambition of marrying a prince who will take care of her.

Disney’s Snow White is currently in production and expected to release in theaters on March 22, 2024.