Fan speculation on Avantika playing a live-action Rapunzel sparks controversy

Fan speculation on Avantika playing a live-action Rapunzel sparks controversyFan speculation on Avantika playing a live-action Rapunzel sparks controversy
via @avantika, DisneyMusicVEVO
“Mean Girls” star Avantika Vandanapu, known mononymously as Avantika, has faced backlash amid rumors of her potentially playing Rapunzel in a live-action version of Disney’s “Tangled.” 
Key points:
  • Although no live-action “Tangled” movie has been confirmed by Disney, fan speculation has led to criticism of Avantika’s suitability for the role, with many citing her Indian heritage as a reason she shouldn’t portray the blonde fictional character. 
The details:
  • An X user claimed that the Indian American actress was screen-testing for the lead role. In a now-deleted tweet, the unidentified person wrote, “Sources say Avantika and Milo Manheim have been screen testing as Rapunzel and Flynn Rider for the Tangled Live-Action.”
  • This was then followed by fan cast videos shared on TikTok, with one proposing a setting in India, leading to the tweet and videos being circulated as a fact.
  • The speculation sparked hateful comments on social media. One comment reads, “I rather not have a live rapunzel then,” while another person said, “I need an eye bleach,” under her pinned Instagram post
  • While many others acknowledged Avantika’s beauty and talent, they argued she isn’t the right fit for Rapunzel as she is not white nor naturally blonde. “Rapunzel is a GERMAN fairy tale published in 1812 which was later bought by Disney. The whole plot of the story is that the hair was long, blond and magical. If you’re okay with an Indian girl playing Rapunzel then why can’t a white girl play Jasmine??? Wait ‘cause no, that would be racist,” one person said. 
Fans defend Avantika:
  • Following the backlash, some fans quickly rallied behind Avantika, highlighting that the movie hadn’t been confirmed and expressing belief in her ability to portray the Disney princess. Many also condemned the racist backlash she faced.
  • The original X user who tweeted the fake news also came forward on Tuesday, confirming that they made up the news announcement. “Alright I deleted #that tweet I tweeted it for fun but people took it seriously and decided to be racist. Fyi never wanted Avantika to be set up, I really liked the fan cast so I took the opportunity and mixed it with Milo (since at that time I was still a stan),” they explained.
  • Disney has not commented on the controversy. Similar controversies have erupted in the past, such as when Black actress Halle Bailey was cast as Ariel in “The Little Mermaid” and when “Never Have I Ever” star Maitreyi Ramakrishnan expressed interest in playing Rapunzel. 
Avantika’s confirmed Disney venture:
  • Avantika, who also starred in movies “Spin” and “Senior Year,” had previously announced her role in a different Disney venture. 
  • In November 2022, she shared news of Disney+ developing a live-action fantasy series based on Roshani Chokshi’s book, “A Crown of Wishes.” The series, deeply rooted in Hindu mythology, will feature Avantika in a leading role, and she is also set to serve as an executive producer for the show. 
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