Rachel Zegler and Halle Bailey on Dealing With Trolls as Modern-Day Disney Princesses

"It’s choosing to be present and know that they’re probably just having a really hard day. And I’m putting out a movie."

rachel zegler snow white
(Image credit: Variety)

Rachel Zegler and Halle Bailey are the epitome of grace when handling the increased scrutiny that comes with superstardom. The live-action stars of Snow White and The Little Mermaid, respectively, were paired together for Variety's "Actors on Actors," where they had an hourlong conversation about their shared experience of filming massive Disney films, from stunt work to dealing with Internet trolls.

At one point in the talk, Zegler—whose film Snow White is set to come out in 2025—told Bailey that she was "so inspired" by how Bailey handled the racist backlash to her casting. When the West Side Story actress asked if Bailey ever let it all affect her privately, Bailey admitted, "Of course, yeah."

"I mean, we’re sensitive. We’re human beings. We're actors, like hello? I get my feelings hurt if my cat doesn’t want to sit next to me," Bailey said.

"That’s what people don’t realize: We’re granted amazing opportunities and able to be seen on massive screens, but there is a dissociation," Bailey added. "People start taking you away from being a real human being that has feelings and reacts to things. That was definitely something that I had to navigate. But it turned out to be the most beautiful lesson—to block any naysayers or negativity out."

"Choosing thankfulness and gratefulness is choosing peace," Zegler added. "As much as you’d like to remind people verbally that being in the spotlight doesn’t absolve you of your humanity—that you’re allowed to have human moments—it doesn’t necessarily do what you want it to do. It fuels them more. So it’s choosing to be present and know that they’re probably just having a really hard day. And I’m putting out a movie."

Zegler also spoke about her experience filming Snow White, and how she hopes that her performance will lead to more opportunities for Latina actresses to get iconic roles.

"Obviously for my community, it’s a huge moment. And I hope that it’s not one of those moments that we hear about in the news where it’s like, 'Oh, the first in X amount of years.' I don’t want it to be one of those, where 25 years later it’s the next Latina playing a Disney princess," she said. "I want it to be this revolving door and not just 'I opened one door, and one person walked through.' I’m sure you feel the same way — you just want to do right by your community."

Contributing Culture Editor

Quinci is a Contributing Culture Editor who writes pieces and helps to strategize editorial content across TV, movies, music, theater, and pop culture. She contributes interviews with talent, as well as SEO content, features, and trend stories. She fell in love with storytelling at a young age, and eventually discovered her love for cultural criticism and amplifying awareness for underrepresented storytellers across the arts. She previously served as a weekend editor for Harper’s Bazaar, where she covered breaking news and live events for the brand’s website, and helped run the brand’s social media platforms, including Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Her freelance writing has also appeared in outlets including HuffPost, The A.V. Club, Elle, Vulture, Salon, Teen Vogue, and others. Quinci earned her degree in English and Psychology from The University of New Mexico. She was a 2021 Eugene O’Neill Critics Institute fellow, and she is a member of the Television Critics Association. She is currently based in her hometown of Los Angeles. When she isn't writing or checking Twitter way too often, you can find her studying Korean while watching the latest K-drama, recommending her favorite shows and films to family and friends, or giving a concert performance while sitting in L.A. traffic.