'Tangled' Fans Upset That Disney Might Cast A Non-Blonde Actress To Play Rapunzel

Should it matter that a non-blonde actress could play Rapunzel? Many people have argued that it does.

Avantika Vandanapu, disney princess rapunzel DFree / cfg1978 / Shutterstock

For many fans of the beloved classic story "Rapunzel" and the well-received animated Disney film loosely based on the fairytale "Tangled," hearing that the charismatic Flynn Rider (sorry, Eugene Fitzherbert) and adventurous Rapunzel might be getting the same live-action treatment as "The Little Mermaid" and "Mulan," has people ready to fill up those movie theater seats. 

Unfortunately for "Tangled" fans, myself included, the live-action remake is all but a rumor started by the fandom on social media platforms. Despite that, it hasn't stopped people from throwing different actresses' names into the mix for who they'd want to see play Rapunzel, including A-listers like Florence Pugh and Amanda Seyfried. However, other actresses like "Mean Girls" star Avantika Vandanapu, who people also want to see play Rapunzel, haven't gotten the same amount of love as Pugh and Seyfried.


'Tangled' fans are upset that Disney might cast a non-blonde actress to play Rapunzel.

Multiple fan accounts have claimed without confirmation that Avantika Vandanapu, an Indian-American actress, should screentest for the role and would make a lovely Princess Rapunzel. Many "Tangled" fans took those posts seriously and have offered support for Disney to cast her. Others weren't so keen on the idea, however.

One of the most prominent reasons people feel Vandanapu wouldn't make a good Rapunzel is that she's not blonde. Apparently, a live-action Rapunzel should only be played by a white girl with blonde hair.




RELATED: Dakota Johnson's Indifference During 'Madame Web' Press Tour Has Elicited Praise — Yet Rachel Zegler Was Not Allowed The Same Grace

"It's the fact that Disney thinks they can just slap a blonde wig on her, and everybody's gonna call it a day. You cannot put a blonde wig on anybody and let it make sense," a content creator and self-titled "Disney adult" named Passion argued in a TikTok video about Vandanapu being fan-cast as Rapunzel.

She claimed that the backlash against an Indian-American actress possibly playing the princess doesn't come from racism but rather from a loyalty to the original storyline of "Tangled." Spoiler alert — at the end, her hair turns brown because it was cut off.


Other fans definitely agreed, as well.

Another content creator, Michael Porceddu, backed up the argument Passion made in her video and explained that if Disney wants more diverse princesses, then they should just create whole new characters instead of rebranding current princesses like Rapunzel, which is not what the fans want at all.



"At this point, let's just let Awkwafina play [Princess] Tiana, or better yet, let's just make Jada Pinkett Smith play the girl from 'Brave.' At the end of the day, it's not racist for people to actually want their favorite Disney princess to look like their favorite Disney princess," Porceddu said. 


RELATED: The Unexpected Way Michelle Yeoh Showed A Disrespectful Costar Who's Boss — Without Saying A Single Word

Other people argued that the backlash against Avantika Vandanapu's casting actually does come from a place of racism.

There have been some arguments that Rapunzel needs to be played by a white actress because the character herself is from Germany. Except, does it really matter? Is it truly important? A content creator named Diana Raffael explained why it doesn't, and this absurd defense of a blonde actress playing the princess doesn't quite make much sense.

The Grimm Brothers didn't create Rapunzel but rather went around collecting different folktales and fairytales they heard from other cultures. In fact, the story of Rapunzel is not European at all but was first mentioned in Persian mythology. 



"As in most adaptations of Rapunzel, she's got long blonde hair, and that is her trademark. Many people are upset about the idea that an Indian actress who would naturally have dark hair isn't going to pull it off," Raffael said. "So, I've taken the liberty of photoshopping Avantika with blonde hair."


In the photoshopped photo, Raffael pointed out that the actress has the right features, a good vibe, and is already known to have a good singing voice from starring in the 2024 "Mean Girls" musical, which are all good things to have when playing live-action Rapunzel. The entire point of a live-action adaptation is not to find a carbon copy of the animated version but rather someone who can embody the natural essence and personality of that character. So why can't it be Avantika Vandanapu?

RELATED: Michael Oher's Accusations Against The Tuohy Family & 'The Blind Side' Prove That Hollywood Should Let Black People Tell Their Own Stories

Let's be real here: The backlash isn't because Vandanapu isn't blonde but because she is a woman of color.

All of this commentary about Vandanapu being fan-cast as Rapunzel has a similar energy to when Halle Bailey was announced as Ariel in "The Little Mermaid" and Rachel Zegler as Snow White. It has nothing to do with Vandanapu not having blonde hair or not being German. People are just angry that an Indian-American actress could be playing a Disney princess instead of a traditional white actress. 

Racism is so deeply ingrained in our society that it's gotten to the point where people can't even see when they're being racist and discriminatory. They chalk it up to wanting to see the princess they grew up with on the big screen instead of someone who doesn't look anything like her. How do you know Vandanapu won't look good in a blonde wig? How do you know she won't be able to embody a good Rapunzel?


The answer is you don't, and to deprive little Brown and Black girls of the chance to see someone who looks like them in a beloved fairytale is just selfish. Even other people have pointed out that Rapunzel exists in other cultures, including South Asian culture. There are versions of Rapunzel where she has long braids instead of long blonde hair.



You can clearly see that it doesn't matter what skin color, hair color, or hair texture Rapunzel has. The only thing that has existed over all of these different versions is the fact that she has long hair — which anyone can have. As a fan of "Tangled," I would be overjoyed if Avantika Vandanapu was cast in the role of Rapunzel. In fact, I'm rooting for the rumors to one day become true and for her to be announced as the newest Disney Princess.

Ultimately, the prospect of Vandanapu being cast in such a well-known fairytale story would be another significant step toward inclusion and the celebration of how storytelling can take different forms. It doesn't have to be limited to a single demographic because, honestly, we've had enough of white women with blonde hair on the big screen.


It's time for something new and empowering.

RELATED: The Line In Harry Styles' Grammys Acceptance Speech That Raised Eyebrows — 'This Doesn't Happen To People Like Me'

Nia Tipton is a Chicago-based entertainment, news, and lifestyle writer whose work delves into modern-day issues and experiences.