Yara Shahidi Says Playing Tinker Bell Was "Really Powerful"

Disney's latest live-action remake hits streaming today.

Yara Shahidi

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Disney's latest live-action remake, Peter Pan & Wendy, is out on Disney+ today and Yara Shahidi, who stars as Tinker Bell, said to People that seeing a Black Tinker Bell was "something really powerful" and more than just a simple ethnicity swap for the beloved character. In an exclusive interview, she said that before she signed onto the movie, she asked writer-director David Lowery what he really wanted to do with his retelling of the classic fairy tale.

"What do we want to accomplish with this remake of something that's been done and is so beloved?" she asked him. She went on to say that she admired the entire crew's desire to go beyond just adding in characters of color, but to make any changes and choices meaningful and thoughtful. "The entire Disney team was committed to doing more than just swapping out ethnicities. It's about telling a story that feels reflective of the times that we're in."

Shahidi also mentioned Julia Roberts's version of Tinker Bell, which was in the 1991 film Hook. Shahidi said that they shared feistiness, something the animated version of Tink is also known for. 

"My take on Tinker Bell nods towards the classic feistiness that we love about her, that kind of overly expressive nature," she said.

Yara Shahidi

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"It was cool," she said of filming separately from the rest of her cast mates and working on holding 180 different facial positions to express Tinker Bell's character without much speaking. "I'm so used to being on a set, like the Grown-ish set, which has staircases and rooms and beds. For this I was just on a set in Burbank and had to try to recreate that kind of immersive experience and literally fantasize the world around me."

And even though Tinker Bell doesn't say much, Shahidi said she had opportunities to do a lot with her role and hopes that it opens viewers' eyes to the possibility of seeing more actors of color in stories that may have originally excluded them.

"I think being Black and Brown actors, oftentimes our worlds and our work worlds are so serious," she says. "There can be a pressure to always be making a statement in everything you do. While I can argue that there's something really powerful about having a Black Tinker Bell, to be able to have a role where the job was fantasy was really an escape as an actor. … It reminded me how much I enjoy the creativity of my job."

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