Disney Taps Actress Yara Shahidi as Tinkerbell in Plan to ‘Diversify Classic Characters’

INGLEWOOD, CA - AUGUST 27: Yara Shahidi attends the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards at The Forum on August 27, 2017 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)
Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

Disney will cast Grown-ish star Yara Shahidi in the role of Tinkerbell for its upcoming production of Peter Pan and Wendy, in what Deadline describes as the company continuing to make “strides in diversifying its classic characters.”

“This would mark the first time a person of color has filled the role that traditionally has featured a white actress and follows in the footsteps after Disney set Halle Bailey to play Ariel in The Little Mermaid,” notes the entertainment outlet, adding that Shahidi will join Jude Law in the role of Captain Hook as well as Alexander Molony and Ever Anderson, who will play Peter Ban and Wendy.

Shahidi, 20, is also a cast member of the ABC series Black-ish and led the series spinoff Grown-ish. She also starred in the film adaption of The Sun Is Also a Star. 

The move follows Disney’s recent decision to cast Shahidi’s fellow Grown-ish star Halle Bailey as Princess Ariel in Disney’s upcoming take on the animated classic The Little Mermaid.

Like many production companies, Disney is currently trying to “diversify” its on-screen characters to meet the demands of progressives pressuring multimedia companies to boost nonwhite roles both in front of and behind the camera.

According to Star Wars star John Boyega, Disney executives continue to fall short, with the 28-year-old British-Nigerian actor recently accusing the company of pushing his character aside after marketing him “to be much more important” to the film than he actually was.

“You get yourself involved in projects and you’re not necessarily going to like everything,” Boyega said earlier this month. “What I would say to Disney is do not bring out a black character, market them to be much more important in the franchise than they are and then have them pushed to the side. It’s not good. I’ll say it straight up.”

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