Disney recently announced that Yara Shahidi, star of the hit series Grown-ish, will be playing the role of Tinker Bell in the upcoming live-action remake of “Peter Pan.”
After Disney’s announcement regarding the role of Tinker Bell being cast to a Black actress, we must consider diversification in the film industry.
The role of Tinker Bell, which has been played by a white woman since 1904, is one of Disney’s most popular characters.
“I am beyond proud of being a part of a generation that no one person could be the face of,” said Shahidi in an interview with The Guardian.
Shahidi’s ecstatic attitude to be a part of a diverse generation shows the importance of her role as Tinker Bell. Along with Halle Bailey, who landed the role of Ariel in the live-action remake of The Little Mermaid, Shahidi is one of many actors who will lead the way for actors of different races to land roles similar to hers.
According to UCLA’s 2019 Hollywood Diversity Report, only 2 out of 10 lead actors in film are people of color.
This year, there have been multiple announcements of the Black actors playing the parts of live-action roles which is the key to getting critical roles to actors of different races.
“I think that we have become kind of numb to the diversity issue when it comes to film,” said Zendaya in an interview on Power 105. “It’s crazy because you don’t even think about it — you’re just used to it.”
Diversity in film does not only refer to race but also the presence of women in leading roles. Besides race, there has been a steady increase of gender diversity in the industry for lead talent.
According to UCLA’S 2019 Hollywood Diversity Report, lead roles by women increased from 18.8 to 23 percent from 2015-16 to 2016-17 in the television industry. These statistics emphasize that although there is work that needs to be done in terms of increasing the amount of diversity in the industry, there is notable progress that has already been made.
“Let me tell you something: The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity,” said Viola Davis at the 2015 Emmy Awards Show. “So, here’s to all the writers… who have redefined what it means to be beautiful, to be sexy, to be a leading woman, to be black.”
With different categories to consider when discussing diversity in the film industry, the castings of black women in these live-action retellings of classic stories will be the key to opening discussions and increasing diversity in the future of film.