Disney Showed the Trailer for “Peter Pan & Wendy,” Featuring Yara Shahidi As the First Black Tinker Bell in History
The premiere of the film Peter Pan & Wendy is scheduled for April 28, 2023. Exactly 2 months before this date, the Disney studio released an official trailer for the movie on its YouTube channel. After that, it became clear that Yara Shahidi, who plays the role of the whimsical fairy, will definitely go down in cinema history. She is the first black woman to play Tinker Bell. However, not all viewers appreciated the director’s and screenwriters’ idea.
Who Tinker Bell Is
The author of the original story, James Matthew Barrie, described Tinker Bell as a fairy who could fix pots and kettles. Her speech sounded like the sound of a bell, and her mood changed literally in a fraction of a second. This was explained by the fact that the tiny size of the fairy does not allow her to hold more than one emotion at a time.
So, if Tinker Bell was happy, she did it with all her heart, and if she was angry, she could easily cause a lot of trouble for whoever caused that emotion in her.
The impetuous but sincere character became so beloved to the audience that over time she turned from a minor character into an unofficial mascot of Disney and became the main character of a series of animated films about fairies.
The actresses that played this role before
In the earliest productions of the play, an ordinary mirror played the role of Tinker Bell, or more precisely, the reflected beam of light from a powerful lamp. This circle moved across the stage among other actors, accompanied by the sound of tinkling bells.
In the 1991 film Hook, Tinker Bell was played by Julia Roberts, who became famous after Pretty Woman. In the 2003 adaptation, audiences saw Ludvine Sagnier in the role of the fairy. Hollywood stars were also often invited to voice the computer-generated versions of this character. For example, in the 2011 mini-series Neverland, Tinker Bell speaks with the voice of Keira Knightley.
Why creators chose a new look for the fairy in the new film
It took several screenplay drafts to create this film, but director David Lowery kept saying that it wasn’t enough. He confessed to journalists that he was a fan of the original Peter Pan adaptation, so he was literally “agonizing over every detail.”
The director warned in advance that a modern adaptation of the story would require some changes to move away from the racial stereotypes in the play about the boy who never grows up. One of such innovations was the appearance of a dark-skinned Tinker Bell. Yara Shahidi was approved for this role back in 2020, during the main casting phase.
Who Yara Shahidi Is.
The 23-year-old American actress and model has an impressive list of roles and several film awards. She began her career at the age of 6 with TV commercial shoots.
The aspiring actress gained recognition for her role as Zoey Johnson’s eldest daughter in the sitcom Black-ish, which aired from 2014 to 2022. And in the film Imagine That, she starred opposite the famous Eddie Murphy. In 2016, “Time” included her in the list of “30 Most Influential Teens.”
In 2018, Shahidi enrolled at Harvard University to study interdisciplinary sociology and African American studies.
How the viewers reacted to new Tinker Bell
The official Disney studio movie trailer has gathered over 3 million views. Comments were disabled, but “Peter Pan” fans didn’t let that stop them — they rushed to discuss what they saw on social media.
Tinker Bell’s casting caused a lot of controversy: “Brace for impact from certain people with that Tinkerbell casting...”, A Reddit user commented. They were right.
Other viewers have noted that the film has a rather dark color palette, and because of this, Tinker Bell doesn’t even glow when she appears on screen.
However, it turns out that many Peter Pan fans are eagerly awaiting the release of the new adaptation, if only to compare it to the 2003 film. Some believe that David Lowery is a talented director who simply can’t make a bad movie, while others say that the modern interpretation of the story could appeal to the younger generation.
How Yara Shahidi reacted to the criticism
On March 1st, the actress posted a photo on Instagram in which she appeared in the role of Tinker Bell. This post gathered over a million likes and numerous enthusiastic comments. One of Yara’s followers said, “It’s so beautiful that young Black girls will now be able to dress up as Tinkerbell, Ariel, and Tiana now knowing they look just like them.”
Yara Shahidi is not going to hide in the shadows because of those who didn’t like her portrayal of Tinker Bell, and she leads an active social life. On March 9th, she participated in the “Black Women in Hollywood” ceremony, and the next day the actress walked the red carpet at another prestigious event in the company of Halle Bailey, who plays the lead role in the new adaptation of The Little Mermaid.
It is quite possible that these young women will inspire many little viewers to pay no attention to racial prejudices. Already, viewers are genuinely happy that familiar childhood fairy tales are being presented in a new light: now they are truly meant for everyone, regardless of the color of their skin.