Rachel Zegler’s Oscar-invite snub is mostly Disney’s fault (but why isn’t she a presenter?)

I genuinely didn’t understand why any negativity was directed towards Rachel Zegler whatsoever. Zegler answered some questions on social media over the weekend about her Oscar plans. Zegler stated that her plans were to watch the show from London, wearing her sweatpants, and that “I hope some last minute miracle occurs and I can celebrate our film in person, but hey, that’s how it goes sometimes, I guess. Thanks for all the shock and outrage – I’m disappointed too. But that’s okay.” Meaning, she asked for and did not receive an invitation to this year’s Oscars, even though she’s the lead of West Side Story, a film with seven Oscar nominations (including Best Picture). She has every right to be upset and to feel snubbed and marginalized as a woman, an actress and as Latina. As Variety pointed out, this is a Disney problem, not a Oscar-producer problem:

The “miracle” she’s requesting is in the hands of The Walt Disney Company themselves, which owns 20th Century Studios, the distributor behind “West Side Story.” The Walt Disney Company could not be reached for comment. A spokesperson for Zegler pointed to a post shared by the actress on Twitter on Sunday afternoon.

“Appreciate all the support, I really really do,” Zegler wrote. “We live in such unprecedented times and a lot of work behind the scenes goes into making movie magic happen [and] awards shows alike… Let’s all just respect the process and I’ll get off my phone.”

In February, the Academy announced a reduction in seating capacity for the Dolby Theatre, which can typically hold 3,300 individuals. Due to remaining concerns regarding COVID-19, and in an effort to keep attendees safe, they are only inviting around 2,500. As a result, the Academy did not hold its annual lottery for the nearly 10,000 person membership to attend. The main orchestra level of the Dolby normally seats about 1,460, which includes the parterre. That area will be reduced to around 600, with the main level holding around 212 attendees. There are approximately 216 individual nominees for this year’s Oscars, and all nominees, with their guests, presenters and performers, will be seated on the main level. All other attendees will sit in the mezzanine.

Traditionally, movie studios are given an undefined allotment of tickets to the Oscars. So the question becomes why didn’t someone at Disney ensure the leading lady of its best picture-nominated film would be in attendance? Each nominated individual receives a plus one to the ceremony, for each category in which they are nominated. For example, triple-nominee Paul Thomas Anderson for “Licorice Pizza” (best picture, director and original screenplay) gets a guest for each of the categories he’s nominated in — in this case, three.

It would be up to the team at 20th Century Studios, which is owned by Disney (which also owns ABC, the broadcaster for the Oscars) to coordinate Zegler’s attendance through any of its nominees, spread across seven categories. Many of these additional plus ones are often used as a method to bring some of the top executives to the Oscars, which is essentially an exercise in massaging egos. Will Disney do the right thing?

[From Variety]

Variety’s argument is that this is mostly on Disney, but they do put some of it on Oscar producers because producers did not ask Zegler to be a presenter on the show. They’ve asked people like Mila Kunis, John Travolta (sighs in Adele Dazeem), Lady Gaga, Chris Rock and tons more. No presenter slot for the breakout star of one of the nominated films, and a young Latina with more films coming out? As for the Disney mess… yes, this is a studio problem. Disney absolutely has enough sway to ensure that Zegler gets a ticket. They were perfectly comfortable snubbing her when no one knew about it. My guess is that Steven Spielberg & company are probably really mad at Zegler for publicizing the snub too.

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.

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36 Responses to “Rachel Zegler’s Oscar-invite snub is mostly Disney’s fault (but why isn’t she a presenter?)”

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  1. Squirrelly says:

    She wasn’t invited because she is filming Snow White in London. There was a set fire last week that halted production (costing tons of $$$) and she’s #1 on the call sheet so for her to attend an awards show would cost even more $$$ to halt production yet again. She wasn’t interviewed and asked if she’s going, she responded to an Instagram comment which she didn’t have to answer. Although what she said was true that she wasn’t invited- it just was petty in that she didn’t explain that she was filming in London it would cost the production thousands and thousands for her to attend the awards show.

    • molly says:

      It’s Disney. Trust me, if they wanted to send her, they have the Mouse Money to get anyone anywhere.

      The Oscars have been in a ratings tailspin, but sure, let’s keep inviting people in their 50s and 60s! They don’t need a bunch of vapid influencers crawling the red carpet like the Met, but having someone like Rachel present is such a no-brainer.

      • beeboop says:

        The Oscars aren’t enforcing any kind of vaccine mandates. Which makes anyone presenting also problematic to productions they’re in. And you don’t seem to understand HOW MUCH IT COSTS TO SHUT DOWN A FILM PRODUCTION for a couple weeks. Especially one of a scale like Snow White. Then fly talent across the pond, wardrobe them, pay for PR, security, hotel, etc. Seven figures. RZ, while a talent on the rise, is not causing any kind of ratings bump or SM chatter that warrants that kind of $$$ or disruption or anger to her fellow crew and cast.

      • Dutch says:

        The travel expense isn’t the sole issue, but it is a factor. The production time that would be lost costs a lot and, Disney deep pockets or not, projects are still expected to stay within budget. The production is already behind schedule so there’s probably no room to move Zegler’s call times around to accommodate a multi-day trip to a series of unmasked large gatherings that could expose the star of their movie to COVID possibly causing further delays.

      • Kate says:

        @molly I agree that they have the money, although I do think they still need to consider how it would affect production costs overall.
        Mainly I wonder who Disney chose to go with the tickets they were allocated. It sounds like there are not that many tickets per nomination and most of the nominees other than best picture and best director probably want to invite their own plus ones. Just seems hard to tell if it’s a snub without knowing how many “extra” tickets there were and who they went to, although it does seem like there should be a way to find room for her to go as part of the “best picture” nomination given that she is the lead. And in any case seems like a missed opportunity that she wouldn’t have been chosen to present something.

    • Eurydice says:

      I don’t understand – if she can’t get time off from the set, for whatever reason, why not just say so? We’ve seen that happen over the years – an Oscar winner can’t be there because they’re working on some remote location, so the presenter accepts in their place. It’s no big deal. Why let it become an uproar and later add a mushy “oh, well, never mind”? And why not let her spokesperson tell Variety what’s actually going on? This story doesn’t make sense – unless it’s some kind of publicity stunt.

  2. Margot says:

    She’s filming Snow White and Disney presumably doesn’t want to hold up production and fly her out to LA just to present. This is makes her look really unprofessional.

  3. Evie says:

    This might also be a Covid Bubble situation, for the Snow White movie. Disney might not want to risk their lead traveling internationally to attend an award show and multiple afterparties. I mean, two articles before this one is the one about the BAFTAs being a superspreader event.

  4. Silver Charm says:

    It’s not a snub, she’s working. They already stopped production once and don’t want to do it again. She and her team know this. Actors work during award season, this isn’t personal.

  5. Jackandkatearelost says:

    Just add this as another blunder on Disney Mgmt. She should have been a presenter.

  6. B says:

    She needs to get off social media if she wants to have a career. She’s had a lot of controversies for a newcomer and it’s not a good look.

  7. Angelica Schuyler says:

    If Zegler was a well known name with more clout, Disney would move heaven and Earth to get her to the ceremony and back in spite of the fact that she’s filming. Sometimes extending the invitation is the ‘right thing to do’. If the person wants to be professional and bow out because they know it would be really expensive or disruptive to production etc, then that would be on them.

    The lack of an invitation was a blatant snub, and just plain rude. The powers-that-be just didn’t think anyone would care enough to notice, and that this young up-and-comer would DARE to say anything about it. Then again, look at how they tried to run ramshod over Scarjo.

    Disney management is a bunch of old men playing from an outdated playbook that severely disregards the changing mores of society. It’s not 1955, or even 1985 anymore. Just treat people with some respect…

    I don’t know why this bugs me so much, but it does.

    • Marla Singer says:

      Exactly! Huge snub! Disney sucks

    • Deering24 says:

      Agreed–this makes no sense she wasn’t even invited. And why would she risk the SW production/being called unprofessional just for an Oscar ceremony? Disney and the Academy screwed up here.

  8. Silver Charm says:

    @Evie Yep. This isn’t just about money (though a few $100k to shut down is obviously a factor). This is further delaying a production schedule with another potential delay bc of the COVID surge. This is a major overseas production with a ton of moving parts and she’s representing it as “guess I’ll stay home on my couch”.

  9. North of Boston says:

    B, what “lot of controversies” are you referring to?

    BTW This case, her not being invited to the Oscars is not a situation or “controversy” if you like that she herself created. She doesn’t control the invites, she worked behind the scenes to see if she could get one, someone asked her about it and she answered truthfully. No controversy generated by her. People pressed her about it and she was like “yeah it would have been nice, but I’m working and there will be other events down the line … so NBD” Again no controversy generated by her.

    You might not have meant it that way, but your comment about how “she needs to get off social media if she wants to have a career’ came across as an echo of the many many instances across history of women and women of color particularly being told they should be less … take up less space, less talking time, less attention, less air in the room in order to be acceptable to other people or allowed to exist in the world at large (eg someone in The Firm telling the Duchess of Sussex that it would be best if she tried to be ‘50% less’ )

  10. Brita says:

    I was ready to call her a brat for whining about it on social media but then saw who they have slated to present (Shaun White? Jennifer Garner?). The girl should have at least been invited and had the opportunity to decline if there were scheduling conflicts. She was the lead of a Best Pic nominee — she should be invited, no question.

    • Silver Charm says:

      That’s not how it works though. It would be Disney’s job to invite her. Why would she be invited by the people she had the scheduling conflict with? Disney told her people they weren’t willing to shut down a major production and eat the cost. It is not uncommon for actors to not attend awards bc they’re working. It’s expected.

  11. KASalvy says:

    She is hardly the first actor to not be inviting for starring in a nominated movie. She *IS* the first one to bring it up on social media and the wolves descended to make this a bigger deal than it is.

    • Amy2 says:

      Curious who hasn’t gotten a ticket as the star of a best nominated picture? Sure some haven’t been there, but I’m not sure I can think of anyone who hasn’t been given a chance when they wanted to go.

      • CourtneyB says:

        I think Covid seating/attendance restrictions are part of it. (Just 600+ for over approximately 200 nominees) But, yes, usually a huge chunk of the cast of a BP nominee is there. The stage is full when they win. They should’ve tried to work within the numbers to get as many nominees/actors in nominated flicks as presenters as possible. But people have made good points about her filming in London and the logistics in a Covid era.

      • Valois says:

        Not sure if this 100% true but I remember reading that non-nominated cast and high level crew members don’t always get seats at the ceremony. They might get an invite but spend the ceremony in another part of the building and only show up before the BP category is announced (so they can go onstage if the movie wins).

  12. liz says:

    It’s just been announced – she’s going to present. The public outrage was clearly loud enough to get Disney/ABC’s asses in gear.

  13. AnneL says:

    It really chaps me that people are dissing her for being open about this. Disney didn’t invite her or ask her to present, and when asked about what she was wearing to the show, she was honest about it. She wasn’t a brat. She said she’d be cheering on her colleagues and the film from her couch. She also said she was disappointed. She has a right to be.

    Why should she be expected to keep mum and be “gracious” (which I think she was, enough so anyway) when they have people who aren’t even IN the film industry presenting? People who did NOT appear in Oscar-nominated films this year, much less played the lead in one? They have a young, beautiful, up-and-coming actress who is currently filming as the lead in one of their big budget films. Having her present makes sense.

    When this story was first posted yesterday, someone mentioned that being seen, photographed and interviewed at shows like this is an important part of the business. It’s cut-throat, and you can’t just be talented, you have to be hungry. You have to play the game.

    Rachel is ambitious and she wants her moment in the sun because it’s important to her career. I say good for her for being blunt (not whiny, just blunt) and wanting what she thinks should be hers. That’s how you get ahead.

    I’m glad to hear she’s going to present now. She’ll show up, look great, and do a good job, unlike some of the men and older stars I’ve seen present over the past few years.

    • Kate says:

      I totally agree she wasn’t a brat, and there is no need for her to be silent about her disappointment. It’s great that things have been worked through so that she can present and be there to celebrate in person if the film does win best picture.

    • Silver Charm says:

      She and her people knew the reason she wasn’t invited was bc of scheduling conflicts. She could be said that. She framed it as a snub when there were legitimate financial, production, pandemic reasons behind the decision. She misrepresented it in order to create a pain in the ass for disney.

      She’s #1 on the call sheet for a major movie being filmed overseas. Hundreds of crew have their personal and work schedules in disarray right now to accommodate her “moment in the sun.”

      • liz says:

        Disney (which owns ABC & Hulu) had Questlove in LA and London and back in NYC in under 72 hours so he could be on the red carpet and collect his DGA and BAFTA awards and still be on time for his day job with a competing network. When the Mouse wants something to happen, it will happen.

      • Silver Charm says:

        And her boss, The Mouse, decided it wasn’t going to happen.

        Questlove isn’t #1 on a call sheet for an overseas big budget movie that costs $100s of thousands to move production around, production bubbles, and hundreds of crew members dependent on that schedule.

      • Kate says:

        @Silver Charm I don’t think she misrepresented the situation, she said she tried to make it happen and was told no, and she’s disappointed that she couldn’t be there but that’s how it goes sometimes. That all can be true even if the reason behind the “no” was because of production reasons. And then when the situation blew up she acknowledged that a lot of work goes into movie and award show production, including the set she’s currently on. I don’t know why she had to be quiet when people were asking her about her Oscars plans, and if Disney weighed the pros and cons of having her attend and guessed wrong on public opinion in making their decision, then that’s not really on her.

      • liz says:

        @Kate – yes, this was Disney’s screwup on all fronts. She was asked a question and she answered it gracefully. To put this on her or to say she was a brat about it is simply wrong. If Disney had been smart about it, they would have given her better talking points as soon she was told that she wasn’t going – emphasizing her desire to stay in London, the logistical difficulties around her going to LA, and to absolutely not say that she had asked and been told no. It appears that they did gave her any talking points until after she got the first question and they got lucky that she was as sweet about it as she was.

        Disney has a long history of making these kinds of mistakes with their BIPOC and LGBTQ+ employees. They let Shonda Rhimes go to Netflix over a $175 Disneyland ticket and Bob Chapeck will be digging himself out of the hole he dug in Florida for a very long time.

      • superashes says:

        Now that she’s gotten what she wanted, I’m guessing the masses are going to wake up to the fact that she got it at the cost of messing up the production schedule on Snow White, thereby throwing the schedules of many crew members into disarray and delaying payments for contractors, and that it is going to lead to blowback. I mean we were all just on here two weeks ago reading about how awful it was for everyone to deal with Tom Hardy on the set of Mad Max, in part because of his delays on shooting (I realize his anger and other issues were a huge contributing factor as well, but even impacts on delays in scheduling were a big deal).

        When it is all said and done, I’m guessing her getting her Oscar’s moment is probably going to come at a pretty high cost long term, career-wise. Particularly given that we are only three months out from her previous social media blowback over her posting of videos mocking Britney Spears.

      • AnneL says:

        I doubt she did anything “in order” to create a pain in the ass for Disney. What would be the point in that? And while we know she is the star of the film, we don’t know what the production schedule is. There will be a lot of filming being done without her in it. There are other characters in the movie that have songs and scenes, for example. There is also production work that doesn’t involve any actors, isn’t there?

        And, superashes, are you really comparing her to Tom Hardy just because she publicly said she wasn’t invited to the Oscars and was disappointed?! Have there been any reports of her showing up late to shoots or being unprofessional? It’s very unfair to compare her to Hardy over this incident. To the extent that it does cause any delay, it won’t have been for nothing. Raising her profile will be good for the success of Snow White when it debuts, in addition to good for its star.

        Maybe there will be some blowback. But she’s getting a benefit out of it too, and weighing the pros and cons, I think being assertive in this business can be necessary especially for young women of color.

      • Deering24 says:

        Why would she deliberately put her current starring role and her reputation in danger? Superashes sounds like a peeved-off Disney exec. trying to cover someone’s screwup.

      • Nem says:

        You are so right…
        she will be seen as unreliable : unable to commit to a big Disney movie because she wants glitters, selfies with real superstars… All the networking will be useless when people see you as untrustworthy.
        Plus being pr poison as her mini scandal is all over the place preventing the film she pretends to promote from benefiting the good communication around ariana debose.
        She must have a bit of hubris : milking dry her Spielberg film connection when she should be relieved to let behind ansel elgort awful association (he does have a hbo max series with Michael mann and Ken watanabe…cancel culture is such a joke) when she should focus on a good performance as she is now the star of a blockbuster.
        She has been incredibly Lucky with two big movies back to back…
        I don’t remember any newcomer ingenue being that blessed since jennifer lawrence.
        She should be really cautious from now.
        Actresses can have complicated private lives but public and professional problems are another thing.
        They dont even have to be guilty to be blacklisted : Mira Sorvino was slandered by weinstein, so she couldn’t do casting for the lord of the rings.

  14. Kahlia says:

    I’m seeing a lot of slamming this girl for being the lead of an Oscars best picture-nominated film (something that might never happen for her again in her lifetime) being public in her disappointment over not receiving an invite to the Oscars. Claiming she’s selfish and ambitious for shutting down production on the film she’s currently on, blah blah blah, now that she “got what she wanted.” But I’m curious: if she were a Black woman or a Black man, would all of you making these negative comments about her have the same response? I’m trying to imagine all of you sh*tting on Skai Jackson or Riele Downs if they had the same opportunities and snub experience, and I’m struggling here.