Rachel Zegler attending premiere of “West Side Story” in Los Angeles, California at the El Captain Theatre in December 2021. Photo by Jesse Grant (Getty Images)
STORY BY HANNAH KAMPITAN
Rachel Zegler’s negatively anticipated role as Disney’s new princess underwent a public “switch-up” when the actress later aired as a fierce, vocal warrior on screens worldwide.
In less than two weeks, the public’s collective disapproval and cancel culture appeared to die down once Zegler publicly became the infamous Lucy Gray Bird in The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes. But if Zegler had not taken up such a significant role in The Hunger Games franchise, would she still be the despised Disney live-action princess much of the world was angry at?
Zegler’s film debut was in the 2021 remake of West Side Story, a musical film where she embodied the protagonist singing role of Maria. Though her performance awe-struck and aroused new fans, her role as the new Snow White caused the exact opposite response.
In interviews regarding the to-be-aired Disney movie, Zegler vocalizes how “weird” Snow White’s love story was, and how she made certain the movie’s plot would stray away from the original.
Additionally, she emphasized that she deserves to be paid “for every hour it is streamed online” and for wearing the costume for 18 hours a day while shooting the film. Having said this during the Writers Guild of America strike, she appeared to be unappreciative and unjust–noting that she is being paid a substantial sum for being Snow White.
As the media began questioning her privilege to play Snow White, I too felt unsettled seeing her lack of appreciation in comparison to the other live-action Disney princesses who valued their role.
Zegler’s perspective on the animated Snow White felt distasteful because she viewed falling in love as a sort of weakness that needed to be avoided. She doesn’t recognize that there is strength in being true to oneself, such as having a value and desire to get married or be in love.
It appears that the public pushed the frustration aside when The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes hit theaters in mid-November. She is no longer seen as a despised princess, but rather a praised warrior as the protagonist in the film.
Unlike her perspective on playing Snow White, Zegler voiced her appreciation and love for the role. Maybe she truly loved the role, or maybe she learned from her past commentary mistakes. The power of media is undoubtedly evident in its people, for it can truly cause them to turn a despised princess into a praised warrior.