Latina actress Rachel Zegler cast as Snow White in Disney film

Los Angeles – Colombian-American actress Rachel Zegler will play Snow White in Disney’s latest live-action adaptation, the company said Tuesday.

The 20-year-old is currently largely unknown to audiences but will soon star as Maria in Steven Spielberg’s much-delayed remake of musical romance film West Side Story out in December, having seen off 30,000 rivals in an arduous open audition process.

The casting of a Latino actress for a Disney princess role traditionally portrayed by white actresses follows Disney’s 2019 announcement that R&B singer Halle Bailey, who is Black, will play Ariel in The Little Mermaid.

“Rachel’s extraordinary vocal abilities are just the beginning of her gifts,” said Marc Webb, director of the Snow White adaptation.

“Her strength, intelligence and optimism will become an integral part of rediscovering the joy in this classic Disney fairytale.” 

Zegler, a New Jersey native, wrote on Instagram: “Well... hello to a dream come true.” 

Hours before the announcement, she had tweeted her admiration for Bailey’s casting in The Little Mermaid, adding: “I love you disney princess cinematic universe.” 

Zegler’s casting comes more than two decades after Disney cast singer Brandy, who is Black, as Cinderella in a live-action 1997 film.

Cuban-American singer Camila Cabello is set to appear as Cinderella in yet another live-action adaptation later this year, produced by Sony-owned Columbia Pictures and set for release on Amazon’s Prime Video.

Production on Disney’s untitled Snow White film is expected to begin next year. - AFP