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Indigenous actor Alyssa Wapanatâhk cast as Tiger Lily in live action 'Peter Pan'

The indigenous actor from Canada joins a cast that also includes the first Black woman to play Tinkerbell, actress Yara Shahidi.
/ Source: TODAY

Disney has found its Tiger Lily.

Indigenous actor Alyssa Wapanatâhk will be starring in her first feature film as the Native American character in the upcoming live action film "Peter Pan and Wendy," which TODAY confirmed after a report by TheWrap.

Indigenous actress Alyssa Wapanatâhk has been cast as Tiger Lily in the Disney film "Peter Pan and Wendy."
Indigenous actress Alyssa Wapanatâhk has been cast as Tiger Lily in the Disney film "Peter Pan and Wendy." Instagram / Disney

"This just in... SO excited for this new journey ✨ #tigerlilly #peterpanandwendy #disney," she wrote on Facebook.

Wapanatâhk, 22, is a member of the Bigstone Cree First Nation in Alberta, Canada, according to her website. She joins a cast that also includes Jude Law as Captain Hook, Yara Shahidi as Tinkerbell, Alexander Molony as Peter Pan and newcomer Ever Anderson as Wendy.

Shahidi, who is best known for her starring role on ABC's "Black-ish," is the first Black woman to play Tinkerbell in the various movies based on "Peter Pan" over the years.

Disney's animated take on "Peter Pan" was released in 1953 and has faced criticism for its racist depiction of Native American people with songs like ""What Made the Red Man Red."

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In the original 1904 play by Scottish "Peter Pan" creator J.M. Barrie, Peter calls the indigenous tribe "piccaninny warriors," and the tribe speaks in a pidgin language, with lines from Tiger Lily like "Peter Pan save me, me his velly nice friend. Me no let pirates hurt him," according to The Smithsonian.

Disney's streaming service, Disney+, has put a disclaimer before "Peter Pan" and other films like "Dumbo," "Lady and the Tramp" and "Fantasia" due to some of their content.

"This program includes negative depictions and/or mistreatment of people or cultures," the new label reads. "These stereotypes were wrong then and are wrong now. Rather than remove this content, we want to acknowledge its harmful impact, learn from it and spark conversation to create a more inclusive future together."

It's not clear how the character will be portrayed by Wapanatâhk, who has been acting since she was 16. She recently wrote, directed and produced the short film "Napes Kasêkipatwât - The Boy & The Braid" about about a Cree first nation boy's journey with his culture.

"Peter Pan and Wendy" follows the live-action remake of the Disney hit "Mulan," which was released on Disney+ this summer. Disney also has a live-action version of "The Little Mermaid" starring Halle Bailey in the works along with "Cruella," a live action film based on "101 Dalmations" with Emma Stone as Cruella de Vil.