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Disney Should Have Had No Problem Casting Its 'Aladdin'
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16 Jul 2017 05:33 PM EST

-by Chanel Adams, Staff Writer; Image: Theatrical release poster of the 1992 animated film Aladdin (Image Source: Walt Disney Pictures / Wikimedia Commons / Fair Use)

Disney has been having a hard time casting stars for the live-action version of Aladdin.

This only reveals what is a big problem in Hollywood and the film industry.

Though Disney has finally announced their cast for the main characters of its live-action remake, there were previous talks that Disney was struggling to find the right actor to play the role of Aladdin for the Guy Ritchie production.

It was announced on Saturday at D23 that newcomer Mena Massoud has finally been cast as Aladdin, joining Naomi Scott as Princess Jasmine and Will Smith as the Genie.

But prior to this announcement, social media had been trying to help Disney find the right stars who would fit the Arabian Nights theme of the film. The internet has been rooting for Victorious star Avan Jogia for the role of Aladdin. Other people think the role should go to a more deserving actor who better fits the part.

Disney was reportedly looking for an Aladdin who can sing, dance, and act. They also wanted to find one who's the right ethnicity. The producers were considering actors of Middle Eastern or Indian descent, reports TMZ. That shouldn't have been hard to find since there are many Middle Eastern and Indian actors who are struggling to make it big in Hollywood. All they had to do is look to Bollywood for inspiration.

It's probably because they wanted to secure big names for the project. Instead of complaining that there is a shortage of ethnically appropriate actors to play these characters (which is not true), they should have looked to the actors they have in their industry. People have also suggested Riz Ahmed and Dev Patel play the role of Aladdin. However, that's insulting to these actors. They should not be the go-to guys because there is a lack of diversity in Hollywood.

Aladdin is Arabian. Riz Ahmed is British Pakistani and Dev Patel is British who was born from Indian parents. Hollywood has no problem finding Middle Eastern or Indian men to play the roles of terrorist in their Americana movies, but they were having a hard time to find someone to play the role of Aladdin? Why is that so hard to believe? Why do people think most South Asian actors should play Middle Eastern people? Do they not realize how insulting that is to the actors?

If Disney wants to take it old school, then they could have looked to the origins of the Aladdin storyline. It turns out that Aladdin was of Chinese descent. However, there are multiple ethnicities portrayed in the beloved children's fairytale. That also brings us back to the problem of finding a suitable Chinese actor. This comes amid the problems that Asian American actors are underrepresented and underpaid in Hollywood. It's the very reason why Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park left Hawaii 5-0. CBS wasn't willing to pay the actors as much as the show's costars, Alex O’Loughlin and Scott Caan.

Disney could easily have given up finding ethnically appropriate actors. Instead, they could have whitewashed the movie—it's not like it hasn't happened before. Emma Stone, Mark Wahlberg, and Scarlett Johansson were cast to play characters of Asian descent in different films. While there was outrage, the film industry did little to change it.

The issue is the normality of racism that runs rampant in Hollywood. Whether this racism is overt or not, it's still there. It's the reason why people of color and black actors complain about the #OscarsSoWhite issue every awards season. Disney's problem with casting stars for Aladdin shows a significant problem with diversity in the film industry. Studio execs don't care about representation. They want a big name to sell their film so they can secure box office success.

It's hard as it is for actors to make it big in Hollywood. It's getting even harder for an unknown or a minority to star in a film because movie execs only think about making millions of dollars. That's why they rely on their overly white crop of actors to sell their films. Problem solved.

They also fear to look beyond the famous names to find actors that portray the characters and will attract audiences. They are afraid to venture outside of Hollywood and take risks on young talent. They're afraid to allow multiple ethnicities and races to dominate the box office. Unless something is done, we will continue to see the same white faces on the big screen and award shows until Hollywood opens its doors to all actors.

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Recently Posted Comments
Date: 18 July, 2017
Posted by: kelvin
Comment: The Indian film industry is a great source of talent to look for a perfect Alladin even if Disney fear to look beyond Hollywood
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