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Rumors of Avantika playing a live-action Rapunzel spark racist backlash online

The “Mean Girls” star has been the target of racist comments since rumors started that she was cast in a live adaptation of “Tangled.”
Avantika Vandanapu at the "Mean Girls" New York premiere
Avantika Vandanapu at the "Mean Girls" New York premiere at AMC Lincoln Square Theater on Jan. 8.John Lamparski / WireImage via Getty Images file

“Mean Girls” star Avantika Vandanapu has been the subject of racist backlash following rumors  that she’s set to play Rapunzel in a live-action version of the Disney animated film “Tangled.” 

No live-action Rapunzel movie has been confirmed by Disney, but fan accounts on social media have claimed without basis that the Indian American actress is screen-testing for the role. Many “Tangled” lovers took those posts literally, and some supported the idea of casting her. 

Others responded with racist comments on TikTok and Instagram, saying an Indian woman with long black hair isn’t fit to play the role. 

“rapunzel should be played by a blonde white girl,” one TikToker wrote in a post.

“Rapunzel is a GERMAN folk story. Indians are not and never will be German,” another said.

Vandanapu’s Instagram was also flooded with hate comments, with some people calling her “disgusting” and saying, “don’t ruin tangled.” 

“You’re going to be the worst rapunzel in history,” one comment said.

Some suggested that casting an Indian woman as Rapunzel would be like casting white women in the roles of non-white Disney princesses like “Mulan” and Tiana from “Princess and the Frog.” 

Similar racist trolling has happened when other actresses of color have been casted in live-action Disney remakes, like Halle Bailey when she played Ariel in “The Little Mermaid.” “Never Have I Ever” star Maitreyi Ramakrishnan was also attacked after expressing her desire to play the role of Rapunzel. 

But South Asian fans rushed to Vandanapu’s defense on nearly every hate comment and video, pointing out that the “Tangled” live-action film hasn’t been confirmed yet — and noting that she would be perfect for the role. 

“All this racism and delusions for a movie that doesn’t exist,” a fan said in an X post.

Others have commented “My Rapunzel” under her social media posts.

“How can u see avantika and not think Disney princess,” another X user said