Hayward plays Victoria the White in the musical and is seen in the trailer with a face of white fur. Fans are accusing the film of whitewashing the actress, saying they believe her feline form should have been portrayed using fur that matched her natural skin tone.
One Twitter user wrote, “How come you can clearly see this is Taylor Swift/the entire bottom half of her face is visible, but you wouldn’t know the black lead was black unless you knew her already.”
Another fan responded, “She’s BLACK?!” Adding, “Wow. You cannot tell. That’s deliberate and terrible.”
Other people brought up the fact the character is literally called Victoria the White with one fan writing, “It’s based on the musical where Victoria is specifically a white kitten, a symbol of her purity as she comes of age in the story. Any person can play any colour cat.”
Another person added, “Francesca was chosen for her awesome ballerina skills and not her skin [colour]. Victoria is a white cat. I’m pretty sure if she had a problem with this, she would have refused the role.”
Speaking with The Sunday Times, the Royal Ballet’s first mixed-race female principal dancer said, “Obviously I would never have agreed to be a part of something that would change the colour of my skin had I been playing a human.
“The bottom line is, I’m playing a cat … a cat that’s white, let’s not read into it.”
Meanwhile, other fans have called out the film for the “introducing Francesca Hayward” text in the trailer when she is already highly accomplished and well known in the ballet world.
In an Instagram post, Hayward wrote, “I feel so proud to see myself in this iconic magazine for the legendary September issue and to be one of Vogue’s #forcesforchange chosen by HRH The Duchess of Sussex and Edward Enniful.”
Hayward was born in Nairobi and moved to Sussex at the age of two to live with her British grandparents. She started learning ballet at three and became training at a professional dance school at 11.
She joined the Royal Ballet in 2010 after winning the Young British Dancer of the Year award.