The Live-Action Remake of Snow White and The Issue with Performative Activism

Ximena Solorzano, Photographer

In recent years, Disney has produced many remakes and adaptations of their extensive catalog of childhood films. Ranging from classics like Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast to new, altered versions such as Cruella and Maleficent, the media conglomerate is on a spree of releasing these live action films. With a long repertoire of remakes, one would believe Disney has perfected the art of live actions, yet they have found themselves under scrutiny over a  new movie in the makings, Snow White.

As filming for the movie has started with a release date not set, Puerto Rican-American actress Rachel Zegler has been confirmed to star as the princess herself. This move raises various questions since Snow White has always been portrayed as white, with Zegler contrasting the described “lips red as a rose, hair black as ebony, and skin white as snow” with a much tanner complexion and obvious Latina heritage. Many critics claim that this casting is an attempt from Disney to push a more progressive look to the company. While the intentions behind this casting appear to be whole-hearted, they appear as a form of forced-representation. 

As a Latina myself, very little representation came across the big and small screen as shows were dominated by white actors left and right. Even if a Latino actor appeared, more times often than not the character would come off as stereotypical, ultimately causing more harm than good. Disney’s casting of Zegler seems to be a sort of reflection of this. What would’ve better been a way to be more inclusive is an original movie with a Latino cast rather than recasting a princess whose appearance is highly emphasized with “skin white as snow”. This feat wouldn’t even be that hard to complete, seeing as how Encanto, a film looking at a Colombian family with magical powers, was a box office hit with one of the songs from the tracklist “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” hitting No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 songs chart. 

Seeing as how Disney has faced multiple issues with forced representation and an apparent lack of cultural awareness with movies such as Aladdin and The Jungle Book, one would believe that solving these concerns would be a priority in order to achieve the inclusivity the conglomerate desperately wants to complete. Instead, they become a recurring theme, rendering them to just another mishap Disney has created.