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Every Actress Who Played a Disney Princess in Live-Action Adaptations

These stars are more than just Hollywood royalty! Halle Bailey, Emma Watson and Lily James are among the women giving new life to Disney's classic heroines

Disney (2)
Disney (2)

Rachel Zegler as Snow White

20th Century Studios; Everett Rachel Zegler (L); Snow White
20th Century Studios; Everett Rachel Zegler (L); Snow White

The first animated Disney princess, Snow White, is getting a live-action makeover, with West Side Story star Rachel Zegler stepping into the iconic headband of the heroine who first hit screens in 1937.

The new Snow White movie isn't set to premiere until 2024, but Zegler's already been glimpsed in character on set, wearing and blue and yellow dress identical to her cartoon counterpart's.

Halle Bailey as Ariel

Disney (2)
Disney (2)

Bailey made a splash (pun intended) with her critically acclaimed performance as Ariel in The Little Mermaid, but the multi-talented star was inspiring fans long before the film's world premiere. Ever since Bailey's casting was announced in 2019, she's reached an audience of young girls elated to see a woman of color in the role.

"It's exceptional to be able to see a figure that you look up to that also looks like your auntie or your sister," Bailey told PEOPLE ahead of her film's release date, which is set for on May 26. She credits Whitney Houston in The Bodyguard, Brandy in Cinderella and Anika Noni Rose in The Princess and the Frog for blazing trails before her.

Jodi Benson, who voiced Ariel in the 1989 original film, raved that Bailey's interpretation of the role is "absolutely beautiful ... The casting has been done so perfectly. It's about the heart of the character."

Liu Yifei as Mulan

Disney/Everett (2)
Disney/Everett (2)

As a fan of the original Disney movie, Yifei was well aware of the expectations surrounding her performance in the reimagination of Mulan.

"You have to put in all your emotion to be able to respect that character," she told PEOPLE of her starring role in 2020. "I see the passion people have for the story. I really hope that we could bring back some of their memories and love. I hope they love it."

Naomi Scott as Jasmine

Walt Disney Pictures/Everett; Daniel Smith/Disney/Kobal/Shutterstock
Walt Disney Pictures/Everett; Daniel Smith/Disney/Kobal/Shutterstock

Though Jasmine was already an independent thinker in the 1992 animation, with her refusal to marry the suitor of her father's choosing, Scott wanted to raise the princess of Agrabah's consciousness even higher in the 2019 live-action adaptation of Aladdin.

"For me that was the main difference was she's fighting for the injustice of her people," Scott told PEOPLE at the time. "My girl's a politician, do you know what I mean? She's not just there to look pretty."

Emma Watson as Belle

Walt Disney Co.; Neal Peters/Disney
Walt Disney Co.; Neal Peters/Disney

The Harry Potter alumna worked her wizardry on the character of Belle in the 2017 live-action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast to advance the character's modern, feminist values. In fact, the live-action film's director Bill Condon told PEOPLE that many of Belle's new character traits were based on Watson's real-life values.

"It's interesting how when we would think of ideas for Belle, it was like, 'Wow, that's what [Watson] is doing in her own life,'" Condon said in reference to the actress' passions for women's rights and literacy.

Lily James as Cinderella

Disney; Disney/Everett
Disney; Disney/Everett

The live-action version of Cinderella's gown may have been even more magical than the cartoon one created by a fairy godmother. At the time of the film's release in 2015, the actress shared how it felt to wear the iconic dress for the first time.

"I couldn't believe it was me. I kind of felt invincible in it and I felt like I could really be a princess," James recalled of her first time wearing the bespoke blue ensemble on the Cinderella set. "It changed how I walked."

Elle Fanning as Sleeping Beauty

Jaap Buitendijk / Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection, Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock; Everett
Jaap Buitendijk / Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection, Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock; Everett

Fanning played the cursed princess in the origin story of her adversary, wicked witch Maleficent. She appeared as Sleeping Beauty – who first took animated form in 1959 – alongside Angelina Jolie in the 2014 film Maleficent and its 2019 sequel Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.

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