The Pioneer

Mountaineer views on today's news.

The Pioneer

The Pioneer

Representation in Hollywood and Why Avantika is Receiving Backlash


A heated debate over representation in Hollywood has ravaged social media, with opinions ranging across a broad spectrum. On one side, opponents argue there is not enough diversity in the industry, while others refute the claim by emphasizing the poorly executed diversity in movies, television, and more. 

Over the years, representation has become more stagnant; as The Guardian explained, “only 31.8% of characters were women last year, roughly the same ratio that has persisted for 11 years”, and “white actors were cast in 70.7% of all speaking roles”. For women of color, these statistics are even more unsettling, seeing as, “Of the top 100 films, 43 had no black female characters, 65 had no Asian or Asian American women, and 64 had no Latina roles”.  

The idea of Hollywood’s poor execution of diversity escalated after rumors regarding the hypothetical casting of Mean Girls star Avantika Vandanapu for the live-action role of Disney princess Rapunzel began circulating. 

A striking parallel can be made in reference to the backlash Halle Bailey faced over her casting as the live-action Disney princess Ariel. One would assume the internet would put their criticisms to rest after such drama erupted almost exactly a year ago — especially after Bailey’s performance was well received; however, such debate has returned and is now targeted at a new woman of color. 

The discussion over Avantika’s portrayal has created a breeding ground for hateful comments aimed at the actress’s appearance and race. Many argue that a woman with the same physical features as the princess should be cast instead, and their top choices are actresses Meg Donnelly, Sabrina Carpenter, or Florence Pugh (all of whom have fair skin and blonde hair). 

Others argue that if Avantika is cast in this role, there will be more opportunities in the future for a diverse casting process, potentially spilling into all positions in the film industry. Thus, helping Hollywood to become more accessible and open to all backgrounds, promoting inclusivity for generations to come.  

However, a “flaw” in this argument was identified by onlookers and quentions how the public would react if a white woman was cast in a role such as Mulan or Tiana. An interesting point, much of the internet is at a crossroads and remains unsure of the debate at hand. 

Yet, all of the discrimination and uncertainty following Avantika is concerning a movie that has yet to be confirmed by Disney and is merely speculation, so it is important to remain respectful and aware of the rising situation and those involved.

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