Zendaya will play Mary Jane in the new 'Spider-Man,' and it's a big deal.
For the first time in Hollywood history, Spider-Man's love interest will be played by a black actress.
And she's none other than 19-year-old Zendaya — a former Disney star whose acting, modeling, and business career has taken off in recent years.
The rumor mill began churning earlier this year after Zendaya was first cast, with many speculating she'd play Peter Parker's friend Michelle.
But according to an inside scoop from The Wrap, Zendaya landed the coveted role of Mary Jane Watson in "Spider-Man: Homecoming" — a character we're used to seeing with red locks and white skin.
As you can imagine, the news is certainly making waves.
People are (mostly) really excited Zendaya will play Mary Jane in the new 'Spider-Man' movie https://t.co/I4EcRzm2Qi https://t.co/KC3QvsLEAs— Business Insider (@Business Insider) 1471618133
Reactions from around the web began pouring in with excitement and praise, proving that casting makes a difference.
Just the thought of the new Mary Jane is brightening people's day.
the idea of Zendaya playing Mary Jane Watson has cleansed my spirit.— Zeba Blay (@Zeba Blay) 1471571238
In an industry that tends to exclude certain groups from the big screen, this is big.
And who knows how many little girls are celebrating the casting decision this very moment?
Of course, not all reactions were of approval. Some are arguing that a black actress would break the mold of Mary Jane's original comic book look (and they clearly aren't happy about it).
But I suggest we take a step back and give this news a little context first.
For every person of color who's portrayed a character originally written as white, there are about a million examples of the opposite.
I mean, just take a peek at this list.
Not only is Hollywood hesitant to create films directed by and starring people of color, but it also has a nasty habit of whitewashing — giving roles that should be played by actors of color to white people (think, Emma Stone playing Allison Ng in "Aloha" or Rooney Mara playing Tiger Lily — a character who's decidedly Native American — in "Pan").
These systemic problems have meant certain groups are dramatically underrepresented on the big screen.
So instead of getting our feathers ruffled over the modernizing of a comic book series, shouldn't we be celebrating an evolving, more-inclusive film industry?
After all, diversity isn't just cool for the sake of diversity — representation matters.
Everyone deserves to see themselves in the heroes that capture our hearts on-screen.