“I never in a million years imagined that that would be a possibility for me,” said Zegler, who is of Colombian descent. “Particularly Snow White, in general you don’t normally see Snow Whites that are of Latin descent.”
Zegler’s casting was initially criticized by some people who questioned why a Latina actress was playing a character celebrated for having “skin as white as snow.”
The 20-year-old’s casting was announced in June, with production scheduled to begin this year under director Marc Webb. The actress said it was initially “a huge thing that was trending on Twitter for days, because all of the people were angry.”
Zegler said the character of Snow White, or “Blancanieves” in Spanish, was culturally significant for the Latino community and viewed as a “huge icon.”
“At one point, you just have to shut it all off and think, if I’m not going to read the bad, I’m just not going to read the good either, and I’m just going to believe in what I believe in,” Zegler said in the interview.
Zegler shot to fame after playing the role of Maria in Steven Spielberg’s 2021 adaptation of “West Side Story,” for which she received the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy.
The film was noted for casting Latino actors in Latino roles, and Zegler said, “we’ve evolved to a place where we’re properly representing the people that this story’s about.”
Previous iterations of “West Side Story” often cast White actors to play Latino characters, with Zegler pointing to the 1961 film which “missed that cultural mark.”
“The conversation can turn really nasty, really fast when you’re talking about representation,” Zegler added. “Because it’s such a multidimensional conversation.”
The actress also addressed the “privilege” she holds in the film industry as a White Latina woman, who is “considered more palatable to a lot of audiences and to people at the heads of these production companies.”
Zegler said she felt a “real responsibility” to “let young Latinas and young Latin folks everywhere know that their dreams were not far-fetched — that there are roles for us.”
“I was a little taken aback when they were very proud to cast a Latina actress as Snow White,” Dinklage said on Marc Maron’s “WTF” podcast last month. “You’re still telling the story of ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.'”
The live-action remake by Disney follows others in the same vein, including 2015’s “Cinderella” starring Lily James and 2017’s “Beauty and the Beast” starring Emma Watson.