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Avantika as Rapunzel: Casting chaos

What started off as a mere fancast, has become a nightmare for 19-year-old Vandanapu as she grapples with the claims she is the new Rapunzel in town.

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Indian-American actor Avantika Vandanapu has been copping it again on social media.

This time round the Mean Girls star is facing backlash on the rumoured casting for the live-action remake of Disney’s Tangled and its Rapunzel casting. Which, by the way, isn’t even on the cards for the foreseeable future…

But what’s got everyone’s feathers ruffled? Well, it seems to boil down to two things: ethnicity and hair colour. Yep, you heard that right.

Owing to a tweet posted back in March about a fancast that suggested she was “screen testing” with Milo Manheim, Avantika found herself surrounded by rumours of being considered for the role of Rapunzel. The user has since deleted that tweet and even said, “people took it seriously and decided to be racist”.


The idea of a brown princess took social media by storm and the reactions that followed made their way to Avantika’s instagram page too, and it seemed like people had got a free pass to be racist.

Avantika Vandanapu
Image: TiKTok

Why all the fuss though? Let’s break it down. Rapunzel, with her flowing golden locks, has been ingrained in our minds as the quintessential fairytale princess. So when rumours started swirling that an Indian might be taking on the role, it ignited a firestorm of debate. Some argued that Rapunzel should be portrayed by an actor who fits the traditional Western image, while others championed diversity and representation in Hollywood.

Rapunzel
Image: Disney

The idea of Avantika as Rapunzel doesn’t sound too far-fetched right? Just ask anyone, a desi girl’s lustrous locks are hair goals all day and all night.

Avantika Vandanapu
Image: Instagram

While the idea of an Indian Rapunzel casting seemed to rub some folks the wrong way, the same crowd seemed oddly okay with casting her as Mother Gothel, Rapunzel’s antagonist. So, let’s get this straight. It’s cool for her to play the villain but not the princess? Talk about a double standard.

@mypawfectfamilyReddit is a scary place… like the fact ppl can see someone so beautiful and that still isn’t enough♬ Prom Queen – ✩ ♬ ₊.🎧⋆☾⋆⁺₊✧

This glaring hypocrisy exposes the deeper issue within the entertainment industry – the pervasive racial bias that often dictates casting decisions. It’s a tale as old as time: actors of colour are frequently typecast into certain roles while their white counterparts get to play a wider range of characters. And Avantika? Well, she’s no stranger to this narrative.

Facing backlash for daring to challenge the status quo in Mean Girls (The Musical), through her reprisal of Karen Smith (now Shetty) Avantika Vandanapu navigated the murky waters of Hollywood’s racial dynamics with grace and resilience. But even as she continues to break barriers and defy expectations, the reality remains that systemic inequalities persist.

Red carpet photo
Image: J-14

So, whether Avantika ends up donning a tower-high wig as Rapunzel, channelling her inner villainess as Mother Gothel or not being in the movie at all, one thing’s for certain – her talent knows no bounds. And as she continues to pave the way for future generations of actors, let’s stand with her in solidarity, demanding a world where everyone’s story deserves to be told.

In the end, perhaps we’ll come to realise that the true magic lies not in the colour of one’s hair or the hue of one’s skin, but in the power of storytelling to inspire, uplift, and unite us all. After all, isn’t that what fairytales are all about?

READ ALSO: Avantika faces racism for starring in iconic Mean Girls reboot

Khushee Gupta
Khushee Gupta
A passionate journalist dedicated to highlighting stories of diversity, empowerment and resilience in various industries and a Bollywood fanatic!

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