Black Girl Movie Magic: Yara Shahidi to Star as Tinker Bell in Disney's Live-Action Peter Pan and Wendy

Illustration for article titled Black Girl Movie Magic: Yara Shahidi to Star as Tinker Bell in Disneys Live-Action iPeter Pan and Wendy/i
Photo: Frazer Harrison (Getty Images)

Yara Shahidi, star of ABC’s Grown-ish and a leader in the growing group of impressive and talented young Black women making waves in Hollywood, will be taking on the iconic role of Tinker Bell in Disney’s upcoming live-action film adaptation of Peter Pan.

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According to Deadline, Shahidi will be the first person of color to play this character in the children’s story, which was brought to animated life by Disney in 1953 and in other films over the years with white women portraying the sneaky fairy.

The casting reflects not only Shadidi’s brightly shining star, but also Disney’s work to diversify the faces in its wide-reaching entertainment productions—a move which opened the door for Shahidi’s Grown-ish cast mate Halle Bailey to earn the iconic role of Princess Ariel in the live-action remake of The Little Mermaid last year.

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The live-action film Peter Pan and Wendy, with Shahidi as Tinker Bill, will be directed by David Lowery. 

From Deadline:

Shahidi joins Jude Law, who will play Captain Hook, as well as Alexander Molony and Ever Anderson, who will play the title characters. Lowery is on board to direct the project and also co-wrote the script with Toby Halbrooks. Jim Whitaker is producing.

In novel and films, Tinker Bell is a fairy and Pan’s closest friend and was famously played by Julia Roberts in Spielberg’s retelling. In recent years, Disney has been open to any actor playing a role that originally was limited to Caucasian talent, making waves after setting Bailey to play the mermaid Ariel. With Tinker Bell, the studio and Lowery wanted to do the same from the get-go and quickly pursued Shahidi, whose star has been on the rise for some time.

It’s exciting to know that a new generation of Black girls will get to grow up seeing themselves in all kinds of classic children’s stories, in large part because of a new generation of Black girls who are staking their claim in the entertainment industry.

On the heels of Zendaya’s inspiring and groundbreaking Emmy victory, Lizzo’s Vogue cover, and Megan the Stallion’s Time 100 honor, it’s clear that Black girls are winning all over. And we love to see it.

Writer, speaker, finesser, and a fly dresser. Jamaican-American currently chilling in Chicago.

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DISCUSSION

Quite aside from this nice young lady’s casting, (which no complaints from me) does the world really need another craptastic Disney live-action remake? Why can’t we tell new stories in our entertainment into which we can cast diverse actors and actresses? Or do something like they’re doing with Dune where the originals were not well received, or Black Panther where the character was never before given a decent chance in popular media beyond comic books?

Like the other Disney live-action remakes of their popular animated properties, this is a blatant grab for cash. The casting of Shahidi is another example of stunt-casting in order to draw in a larger audience to another lackluster and unnecessary remake.

Will she do a good job? Probably. Will the movie be worth watching? Based on the other similar movies so far, I doubt it.