According to Peter Pan & Wendy star Yara Shahidi, Disney’s intention behind remaking their animated take on The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up was not to earn social media brownie points, but in fact give black and brown moviegoers “the fairy tale we deserve”.
RELATED: ‘Peter Pan & Wendy’ Star Yara Shahidi Responds To Criticism Of Disney’s Continued Race-Swapping: “People Think Of Diversity And Inclusion As Threatening Or Jeopardizing The Quality Of The Story Instead Of Seeing How Beautifully They Can Be Interwoven”
Shahidi, who is set to portray a race-swapped version of Tinkerbell in the upcoming live-action Disney Plus exclusive, offered this defense of the film’s existence during a recent profile interview given to the women’s beauty and style outlet Byrdie.
Speaking with the outlet’s Olivia Hancock on a variety of topics ranging from her career history to her time studying African American studies and sociology at Harvard, the pair’s conversation eventually turned to the topic of Disney’s now infamous predilection for making changes to the superficial traits of their many classic characters.
Met with praise from Hancock over how the House of Mouse’s latest casting habit indicated that they were moving in a “more inclusive” direction, Shahidi then attempted to claim (and somewhat nonsensically at that) that her appearance in Peter Pan & Wendy was not a lazy attempt to virtue signal, but rather representative of a cultural desire within the company to repackage their old products for new and ‘diverse’ audiences.
“I talked to the director [of Peter Pan & Wendy], David Lowery, about why he and the higher-ups at Disney wanted to retell this story and I loved his response,” the Grown-ish star explained. “They wanted to bring some new fun to this classic but also give us the fairy tale we deserve.”
“They wanted to bring some new fun to this classic but also give us the fairy tale we deserve,” she added. “It’s evident they’re not just popping Black and Brown folks in the cast for the sake of updating the story. Instead, it’s about creating a story that so many more people can see themselves in after we’ve been left out for so long.”
Notably, this is not the first time Shahidi has presented a contradictory word salad in defense of Disney’s race-swapping.
Asked by The Hollywood Reporter for her thoughts on the overwhelmingly negative reception to both her and The Little Mermaid star Halle Bailey’s casting as originally white characters, Shahidi opined, “What’s been beautiful is seeing the response to both of our characters and seeing how many people feel included in this fairy tale, while also maintaining the magic that we love in the first placed.”
“I think oftentimes people think of diversity and inclusion as threatening or jeopardizing the quality of the story, instead of seeing how beautifully they can be interwoven together to create something that impacts even more people, that lets even more people into stories that we love,” she added. “The amount of people who are like, ‘Oh my goodness, I get to see a fairy that looks like me,’ I think validates the fact that we all deserve a large fantasy life.”
Peter Pan & Wendy’s current flight path has the live-action remake landing on Disney Plus on April 28th.