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Fans slam Disney for ‘race-swapping’ as first photos of black Tinker Bell released

Yara Shahidi as Tinker Bell is the first person of colour (POC) to play the beloved fairy onscreen.

Yara Shahidi at the 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards in 2021. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images)© Getty Images

Neasa CumiskeySunday World

Disney fans were left divided this week after getting a first look at Yara Shahidi as Tinker Bell in the upcoming live action Peter Pan remake.

The 23-year-old is the first person of colour (POC) to play the beloved fairy onscreen in the latest adaptation of the J.M. Barrie novel, which will land on Disney+ later this year.

The Grown-ish star took to Instagram on Tuesday to share the first photo of her in character as Tinker Bell and confirm her role in Peter Pan & Wendy.

“Pixie dust loading … #PeterPanandWendy,” she captioned the snap.

However, the announcement has received mixed response online.

While many have applauded Disney for casting a biracial actor to play Tinker Bell, others have accused Disney of hiring Shahidi to purposely invite backlash.

Some fans criticised the House of Mouse for lazily “race-swapping” original characters instead of creating well-developed POC characters with their own stories.

“I think Disney be doing shit to stir up controversy with some of these casting when you could simply make more black princesses or characters,” one person wrote on Twitter.

“What's the point of race-swapping Tinkerbell? Disney already has a black fairy (Iridessa); they could have fleshed out a story with her and the other fairies,” another said, referring to one of the main characters in the Disney Fairies franchise.

A third chimed in, commenting: “Why is Disney so unwilling to create original stories with their already established characters of color?”

And some else added: “Disney couldn’t care less about making new stories with Poc characters, they just put poc ppl to play white characters, and that shows 1) how lazy Disney is 2) how racist this is, it’s like they don’t think poc ppl deserve their own stories (beside like 3 animated movies?)”.

However, others were pleased with the preview of Peter Pan & Wendy and couldn’t contain their excitement to see Shahidi as Tinker Bell.

One fan tweeted: “Disney Truly said "Tink is what? BLACK! PERIODT!" And i am so here for that. Can't wait to see this movie. Can't wait to see a Tinkerbell like me and my joy is untouchable!”

Another spoke about Halle Bailey taking on the iconic role of Ariel in the upcoming live action version of The Little Mermaid as they said: “WE HAVE A BLACK MERMAID AND NOW A BLACK TINKERBELL”.

“yara shahidi as tinkerbell! she’s soo cute,” someone else added.

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