Some are upset that British-Indian Naomi Scott was cast as Jasmine in ‘Aladdin’

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Over the weekend, I wrote about all of the new information that came out of Disney’s D23 expo. Not only were there new posters, trailers and information about and from upcoming Disney released, but there was some big casting news. Disney is making a live-action Aladdin, and we heard just last week that Disney was having big issues casting the main roles of Aladdin and Princess Jasmine. They were searching America, Britain, the Middle East and India for actors who could sing, dance and… you know, be brown. I joked that Ansel Elgort should be considered, because that would perfectly encapsulate all of the terrible casting choices lately. But to give Disney some credit, they knew they couldn’t hire white actors and they didn’t even consider it. Anyway, they announced their new Aladdin and Jasmine: Mena Massoud, who is of Egyptian descent, and Naomi Scott, who is of British and Indian heritage. It’s Naomi’s casting that has caused some question marks.

To find the cast for its upcoming live-action reboot of the 1992 animated classic Aladdin, Disney and director Guy Ritchie reportedly undertook a months-long, worldwide search with an estimated 2,000 actors reading for the lead roles of Jasmine and Aladdin. And after all that buildup, fans are still finding fault in the studio’s picks. Disney is catching some blowback for casting a non-Arab actress to play Jasmine.

Naomi Scott, who starred in this year’s Power Rangers film, landed the role alongside Mena Massoud as Aladdin, and Will Smith as Genie. Scott is of British and Indian heritage and some critics of the decision see it as a suggestion by Disney that women of Indian and Middle Eastern heritage look the same. Massoud is of Egyptian descent.

To be clear, Aladdin—the story of a rough-and-tumble kid from the streets who enlists a genie to win the love of Princess Jasmine—is set in fictional Agrabah, but it’s largely seen as representing a Middle Eastern city. One critic of the decision said it was one more instance of Hollywood believing that “brown [people] are interchangeable,” while another said fans are “upset that their representation was taken away, and rightly so.”

[From People]

Is Disney guilty of lumping all brown people into the same “Brown Actor” mix? For sure. But we already knew it was happening, so I had at least gotten used to the idea. In that story last week, it was pretty clear that Disney was open to hiring actors of Indian descent, regardless of the fact that Indians are not Middle Eastern. I even mentioned that in last week’s post, that some would take issue with the idea that all brown actors were being lumped together. The justification being used, I suppose, is that the story is fictional and the locations are fictional too, so it doesn’t really matter. Now, all that being said: I don’t have a huge problem with Naomi’s casting. It would have been nice if they had gone with an actress of Middle-Eastern or Arab descent, but so be it. I already had my expectations set so low, I’m just happy they didn’t cast Bella Thorne.

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Photos courtesy of Instagram, WENN.

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166 Responses to “Some are upset that British-Indian Naomi Scott was cast as Jasmine in ‘Aladdin’”

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  1. Loopy says:

    I am not feeling either of them for the roles, this Mena looks a bit ‘rough’ and the girl is just meh, but I have not seem them act and don’t know how the will transform. It seems to be once it got out that they were struggling to cast they just scrambled and made a quick decision

    • WingKingdom says:

      I agree, he is NOT attractive. She’s very beautiful. But come on, with the complete disasters we’ve seen in casting and how Americans respond at the box office to whitewashing, it seems getting this right would have been top priority. Are you telling me they can’t find two hot, talented actors in all of the Middle East?

      • INeedANap says:

        Idk I kind of like the casting of Aladdin. He has the kind of beaten, rough look of Sean Bean and Clive Owen. If he has sufficient swagger and charm it will come off very attractive I think. But I’ve never liked pretty men.

      • Allie B. says:

        He’s pretty hot to me *shrugs*. And rough? I’m sure he can shave…

      • Avamae says:

        He is not ugly but it looks like his left eye is a little bit wonky and he nothing of the Roughness of Sean Bean and Clive Owen.
        He just has a lot of Stubble and a stupid Haircut. Stubble doesn’t mean rough in pur time.

        She is very very pretty.

        I would like to nominate Shahid Kapoor for Aladdin.
        He is Indian, a good Actor, a good Dancer and quite decent Singer and he is also very pretty.

      • Twink says:

        Agreed. He looks like Marc Anthony who is not attractive.

      • perplexed says:

        Maybe he’ll be better looking when they give him a better hairstyle.

        Funny, he does look like Marc Antony.

      • Tiffany :) says:

        If you do a google search, there are photos where he looks waaaay hotter than the one posted above.

      • perplexed says:

        After looking at other pictures of him, I don’t think he’s what would be classified as unattractive. He’s not necessarily my type, but I think he would be considered good-looking (enough?). He’s still really young though – most under 25s in Hollywood today are kind of funny looking (Ansel Engort?). He does look really different from photo to photo though, so maybe he’s a bit of a chameleon.

        Most of the current day under 25 actors look kind of meh. But that’s probably because they’re under 25 and trapped in a really weird era for men’s fashion.

    • ORIGINAL T.C. says:

      Really? I think Men’s is H.O.T. I had to stop on his picture and catch my breath. I can see why people have a problem with the girl playing Jasmine. It’s the old and tired colorism game. Otherwise known as “only mixed race ethnic women can play a beautiful princess or a love interest”. *Sigh*. I would not have a problem with a full blooded Indian or Persian women. LA is FILLED with drop dead gorgeous Persian/Iranian-American women and apparently none of them could act or sing?

      No talented full blooded women in India? The home of Bollywood? Yeah no one is buying the B.S. they are selling. White producers and executives just can’t snap out of the notion that in order to raise a minority woman to prominence, she has to have some white blood in her to justify that delicate + feminine = whiteness.

  2. graymatters says:

    I can kinda see what Disney was thinking, though. India has a deep pool of talent from which to choose a non-white actor, and Naomi does look a lot like Jasmine as she was drawn in the cartoon. I’m looking forward to Will Smith’s performance. The genii is the star of the show IMO.

    • Elsa says:

      Naomi is half white. Her dad is white.

      • Truthful says:

        Sofia Boutella who is Algerian (binationality) would have been fantastic as Jasmine… as she is beautiful, North African AND a professional dancer

  3. Missy says:

    At least it’s not Emma stone or someone like that

  4. HH says:

    I don’t have a problem with her ethnicity (as in no issue with an Indian woman playing Jasmine) just her looks. She still looks like an ethnically ambiguous white person. Meaning she could play a white person who’s Italian, French, German, Greek, Spanish decent, etc. However, she isn’t brown enough (in terms of melanin or facial features) to play Jasmine. It’s certainly not the worst they could have done, but they could have been more accurate.

    • Anon says:

      That’s because she’s half-white. Her mom is Indian, her dad is white. I feel like Disney took the cheap way out by casting her. She still looks white, but Disney could still say her background is Indian. This was a chance for a Mifdle Eastern girl to get a big role and Disney just completely failed. It’s really disappointing because I love this movie but I’m probably not going to see it.

      • me says:

        Yeah she really could pass as “White” couldn’t she? I’m Indian and even I couldn’t tell she was part Indian. Plus Jasmine wasn’t Indian !

      • Alix says:

        I get people being cranky because she’s half white. But does Jasmine have to be portrayed by someone specifically from the Middle East? I don’t think they do background checks to make sure that actors who play Italian, Irish, Australian, what-have-you white characters are of that exact ethnicity. Hell, the world’s most famous Southern belle, Scarlett O’Hara, was played by the very British Vivien Leigh.

      • perplexed says:

        British and Australian are nationalities rather than ethnicities though. That’s why Scarlett O’Hara playing an American wouldn’t necessarily be an issue the way getting an Indian person to play a Middle Eastern person or vice versa would be.

        I get that there are different white ethnicities (i.e East European vs Anglo-Saxon), but white people seem to enjoy/prefer converging as one race when it’s convenient for them in terms of consolidating power against everyone else who isn’t white. I mean, I don’t see Melania Trump arguing against calling her a white immigrant when it’s convenient for her, even though at one time Anglo-Saxons, which she isn’t, were considered to be the “top white people.”

    • Nyawira says:

      I was just typing the same thing. She could pass for Italian easily. And isn’t it interesting that the guy playing the street urchin is dark? So basically you will have a fair skinned Princess being pursued by the dark street boy. There’s clearly a problem here, I’m surprised more Asian and MENA people arent loudly fighting this. It’s making me back away since it isn’t really my fight to push.

      But let me make it clear to Disney. If you eeeeever do a live action of the Princess and The Frog and cast a half white light skinned girl in the lead, you can bet someone in your office is getting fired. AAs don’t play with this colorism sh*t anymore

      • WeAreAllMadeOfStars says:

        She doesn’t look Italian. Thank you for highlighting how people perceive things differently based on whether they’re fairer or darker than the person they’re looking at.

      • Nyawira says:

        She does look like a Mediterenian European as multiple people here have noted. And she is lighter than her co-star who will play a street urchin while she plays the fair skinned Princess. I don’t know what part of that you are arguing with but you clearly demonstrate an oblivious sense of privilege when you fail to see why perpetuating harmful colorist stereotypes is not where Disney should be in 2017.

      • perplexed says:

        I think she could pass for Italian. Well, more so than, say, Irish anyway.

      • WeAreAllMadeOfStars says:

        I still think she looks like someone with non-white heritage. To each his own; and remember, people look whiter or more ethnic to an individual based on their own appearance. And if you seriously think that Asians and Middle Eastern people don’t value light skin and that sitting on your pale bottom in a palace hasn’t been an indication of privilege since the beginning of time, I suggest you do some research into skin color and privilege in non-white regions. This has been a thing since the beginning of time and not only with white people. That’s just the way it is.

      • perplexed says:

        That’s why I think she could pass for Italian — some of them “look” like they have non-white heritage. “Look,” being the operative word here. Some of them “look” ethnic (and at one time were probably considered to be so). I don’t think of Italians as looking as white/fair as Nordic/Scandinavian people. Some of them do, but not all of them.

        I do also think Asians and Middle Easterners value light skin.

        I don’t really find any of these mutually exclusive. She has the light skin most communities value AND she could also pass for anything from mixed-race (which she is) to Italian, Greek, etc. She could also pass for North Indian (though I have no idea if that’s what Princess Jasmine is supposed to be). Some North Indians could pass for Italian too.

    • Goats on the Roof says:

      “Not brown enough?” Jesus. I can’t.

      • bros says:

        neither can I. This is just absurd. some racial purity test for people to get up in costume and play pretend for a living and act out a fictional fantasy thing and people are acting like disney needs to get their saliva for a 23andme DNA test so we can make sure that their ethnic heritage lines up exactly with the purported location of the FICTIONAL story they are acting out, and also that the actors be SUFFICIENTLY VISIBLY REPRESENTATIVE of their ethnicity is 100% idiotic.

      • HH says:

        Yes, that’s a thing. It’s also why Zoe Saldana had no business playing Nina Simone. Her skin tone and facial features did not fit the part. And I certainly acknowledge that because Nina is a real individual there’s a higher obligation to accuracy. However, Naomi isn’t “brown enough” (again skin tone and facial features) to play Jasmine. There certainly are fair skinned Arabs (and this goes for all brown ethnicities), however, that’s not how Jasmine is drawn.

        Furthermore, this is a big picture problem. This casting would be a minimal issue if brown skinned women were well represented in media, but they aren’t. So when Disney gets the chance to cast someone brown(er) skinned and they go with an individual who fair(er) skinned with more white features, it’s an issue.

        ETA: Further elaborating on the range of skin tones – As stated above, I fully acknowledge the spectrum of brown skin tones. I don’t think her casting would have been a problem if she was playing a woman of middle eastern descent in a new movie. However, if one is casting for a predefined role, there are certain expectations. Those expectations become more important when we’re talking about underrepresented groups.

      • WeAreAllMadeOfStars says:

        Thank you. She was cast in a DISNEY movie to play Princess Jasmine, a children’s fairy tale character. Not to play Benazir Bhutto, Sheikha Mohammed, or Malala Yousafzai. Everyone take a chill pill. Or, the next time you turn on some historical melodrama, make sure to get extra offended when the English are playing the Scots and the Irish, and Anglicans are playing everyone.

      • Grant says:

        Wonder Woman is drawn with black hair, tan skin, and blue eyes. Gal Gadot has brown eyes. Let’s riot in the streets!!!

      • LAK says:

        I guess in your view, HH, all Persians should not apply for roles about the Middle East. In case you are confused, that would be present day Iranians. Lighter skinned than your average Italian, which in your view disqualifies them as Middle Easterners.

        Perhaps you’ve never heard of Yazidis….blond, blue eyed middle Eaterners in Syria/ Iraq.

        The Middle East is not one skin tone monolith.

      • blogdis says:

        @ LAK
        Quoted verbatim from @ HH pose

        “There certainly are fair skinned Arabs (and this goes for all brown ethnicities), however, that’s not how Jasmine is drawn”
        “I fully acknowledge the spectrum of brown skin tones. I don’t think her casting would have been a problem if she was playing a woman of middle eastern descent in a NEW movie. However, if one is casting for a PREDEFINED role, there are certain expectations. Those expectations become more important when we’re talking about underrepresented groups.

        Where exactly did @ HH state the things that you are accusing her Of including not knowing that Middle easterners are not monolithic in skin tone IMO she clearly acknowledges this and explained with nuance the issues with THIS particular casting
        I swear some posters just jump into a convo to try and prove that they are more learned than everyone else

      • HH says:

        @Blogdis – Thank you. My op statement of “brown enough” seems to be what outraged people the most. There’s probably a better way to put it, but it’s a thing.

        If there were a book being made into a movie and the female lead was described as chocolate skin with full lips and they case Halle Berry, it would be an issue. Halle Berry is Black, but different than Gabrielle Union who is different than Beyoncé who is different than Viola Davis.

        There is no singular archetype for an Arab or Middle Eastern woman, but there IS a description/look of Jasmine. And Naomi isn’t what many people pictured.

      • Nyawira says:

        LAK, Grant and other colorism defenders

        This is not complicated. Disney could have picked a blonde blue eyed MENA to play the street boy Aladin. They could have picked a woman the shade of Mindy Kaling to play the Princess. They didn’t and as angry as peope are nobody is surprised. Why? Because dear LAK and Grant, light skin is consistently associated with nobility and beauty and feminnity. And why is the boy darker? Because he is poor of course and in a man, dark skin adds a dangerous eroticism. Darker man=unchained inhibitions.

        The difference in their skin tones and how they slip into stupid gender color expectations just perpetuates Disneys failings on this subject. It will be interesting to see how Jafars skin tone compares. I expect Jasmine (the morally purest character) is the fairest, Aladin who is a petty thief but learns to be good is darker. And Jafar, the villain will be the darkest with pronounced Middle Eastern features. You know, just. like. the. cartoon.

      • LAK says:

        Nope. HH is saying ME people can only be a particular skin tone and that’s the basis of their entire objection to this casting.

        Their objection wasn’t that an Indian actress had been cast in a part that should go to a ME actress.

        ‘not brown enough’ sums it up succinctly.

        Cartoon Jasmine is assumed by the world to be Middle Eastern. That can mean anything in terms of real life ME people.

        Instead HH reduces it to ‘ not brown enough’ which means Persians, who are whiter than white, shouldn’t apply for any ME parts because by HH’s standard, they are ‘not brown enough’.

      • HH says:

        @LAK – At this point, your post is just willful ignorance. You are simply choosing to miss the point of my OP and disregarding follow up posts. However, even if we are simply using the OP, my statement was:

        “However, she isn’t brown enough (in terms of melanin or facial features) to play Jasmine.”

        I didn’t say she wasn’t brown enough to play an Arab or Middle Eastern woman; I said JASMINE–specifically–who has predefined look. AGAIN, the larger picture is Disney missing the opportunity to cast a brown(er) skinned woman and using someone fair(er) skinned. AGAIN, for example, if this were a character who was described/drawn as chocolate skinned with full lips and Halle Berry was cast, it would be the exact same issue.

    • sanders says:

      But many arabs are far lighter skinned than Indians. As a matter of fact, some arabs can easily pass for white. That is part and parcel of the racism in the US and Canada. South asians are conflated with arabs because anything threatening must be darker.

      • bros says:

        so are many persians. The point is that there is a huge range of skin tones in the world and they don’t map 100% onto an ethnicity. That is why this entire purity and skin tone and face test for characters to play in a show is really really silly.

      • zeynep says:

        @sanders True, there are very many people in the Middle East who have very fair skin naturally, lighter than some Europeans.

        I think people would still have issues if they cast an Arab/Middle Eastern actress with the coloring of Princess Lalla Salma or Nadia Lutfi, as it seems that colorism is the issue here, as well as heritage/background, but I have also seen many people saying Jade Thirlwall (half European) and Gigi Hadid (half European, blonde, fair skinned and blue eyed) should have been cast as Jasmine, something that I do not understand at all. I think this is a case where pretty much no one will be satisfied for one reason or another. Disney will likely still make bank, though.

      • sanders says:

        yes, fully agree zeynep!

    • Wilma says:

      I’m not sure this one should matter. Aladdin was not part of the original tales, but added by a Frenchman who called Aladdin Chinese. Apparently it has always been very hard to determine the exact setting of the tale.

    • Margo S. says:

      She looks really Caucasian in these photos. But on her Wikipedia page, the photo of her looks more Indian.

    • msd says:

      If you’re an actor of colour isn’t it preferable career-wise for the industry to get to the stage where they can see you as a broad range of ethnicities? Obviously certain roles, such as playing a real person, require hewing closer to reality but … white actors benefit from lumping white people of different ethnicities together all the time.

  5. Yellowrocket says:

    Mena is HOT! I’m excited for will smith as genie too.

  6. SnowyLioness says:

    If anyone bothers to read A Thousand and One Nights, they will be informed that Aladdin is taking place in China. That’s all I have to say about the casting.

    • Loopy says:

      Lol is that a joke? I actually read somewhere that Agrabah is actually suppose to be Baghdad but it was too controversial so they changed the name to a fictional one.

      • sanders says:

        Agrabah is a fictional place. There is an Agra in India.

        Sadly, some Americans believe it is real and should be bombed.

      • Pia says:

        Nope not a joke. Before the borders were drawn, there was a lot of movement within Asia. India was under Mughal rule, who were Muslim. 1001 Nights contains Arabic, Persian and Indian elements. Aladdin is originally set in Western China. So to be authentic they should’ve cast someone who looks more East Asian. So I am fine with a half Indian actress as Jasmine. The source material is complicated in terms of setting.

      • sanders says:

        I agree the source material is complicated and the stories cross many cultures. Once the west discovered these stories, they were further altered. I just hope that they don’t go the colorism route for villains or trot out some horrible islamphobia which the original animated version was full of.

        I’ve noticed that no one is upset that will smith, an african american is playing the genie or that aladin is being played by someone from egypt, a country in Africa.

      • justme says:

        There was a miniseries in 2000 called Arabian Nights (very enjoyable series too). In it Jason Scott Lee (who is of Hawaiian and Chinese heritage) played Aladdin and the story is obviously set in western China.


        @Sanders, Egypt is a middle eastern country. Why should anyone be upset about a middle eastern man getting cast in a middle eastern role?

      • sanders says:

        Loladoesthehula, Please consult a map. Egypt is in North Africa and North Africa is is located on the African continent.

      • sanders says:

        I think western orientalism has created a lot of the confusion people have about the middle east, africa and south asia.

      • Nyawira says:

        The Maghraib countries are physically in Africa but culturally affiliate with the Middle East. In fact it’s long been a subject of academic debate among those countries on whether to cede AU membership for the GCC. It’s not unusual to find them attend the GCC ex parte. For instance if you watched Trups speech at the GCC, you probably noticed that Egypt, Sudan and Mauratinia were present. In other words, it’s complicated


        @Sanders, I’m African, I’ve visited Egypt multiple times, I know where it is. Its being on the African continent doesn’t change the fact that it’s also a Middle Eastern & Arab country. You might wanna take your own advice & consult a map on this one.

        ETA: other North African countries are Arab but not Middle Eastern. Egypt is both.

      • sanders says:

        Of course I am aware that Egyptians have an arabic culture but it is not the same as the culture of Saudi or kuwait. I don’t even know if there is a consensus as to what makes up the middle east, geographically and culturally. It is a diverse place and the North African countries have their own distinct culture.
        The point I was making is that arab culture spread to many continents including Asia and Africa and it seems that 1001 nights reflects multiple cultural influences. Additionally, the story of Aladin has even more distance from the middle east. I’m not sure that it makes sense to insist that the leads be middle eastern just as I don’t know why some are insisting they should be Indian actors from bollywood. I just hope it is not full of racist, colorist, crappy orinentalism like the original disney production.

    • sanders says:

      I did read a 1001 nights over 20 years ago. It was translation written by some british dude. I don’t remember reading Aladin but you are right , it is set in China. I read somewhere that that story was added later by a french writer who had learned about it from someone in the middle east though some say he may have made it up himself.

      • Sixer says:

        Yes – Middle Eastern folk tale set in China. The guy who added it – apparently as an oral tradition story he had heard on his travels – was Antoine Galland, one of the earliest Romantics. I did a module on oral traditions way back when (too far way back when!) in my degree and I remember it.

        As a larger point, while I oppose whitewashing and outright postcolonial appropriation in films and TV, I do think the microscopic interrogation of every single casting can deflect from the big picture, which is of lack of representation everywhere.

        In this case, the actor isn’t white. The source material is multicultural and cross-cultural in its most literal sense. I don’t see it as a problem.

      • sanders says:

        Though I loathe white washing, when it comes to fantasy stories, I prefer multi racial casting. I find that far more interesting.
        I’m very excited to see Ava Duvernay’s film version of Wrinkle in Time. She changed up the ethnicity and race of many of the characters. She made a conscious decision to go beyond the usual american black and white casting and included a south asian woman, Mindy Kaling, not my favourite, but beggars can’t be choosers etc. I love everything that woman does!

        Another example I like from a million years ago is, Peter Brook’s adaptation of the Mahabharata. The Hindu epic is told using multi racial casting of the Pandava siblings as well as other characters.

        From what I remember of Guy Ritchie’s films, I’m not sure he is the best person to tell a story about pocs. I find this more problematic than the choice of actors.

      • Sixer says:

        Yes, exactly. I worry that the larger issue of under-representation will be undermined by ever more microscopic criticism of individual casting.

        You’re right about Ritchie. Not exactly the world’s most enlightened man!

    • Des says:

      No, Aladdin is brought *from* China to the Maghreb, which is North Africa. Disney changed that to Agrabah and introduced things like the flying carpet which the Arabs associate with India. It’s the usual Disney mess of “rest of the world culture” and why its live action movie plan is so stupid. What we swallow or gloss over in cartoons isn’t going to work with flesh and blood actors.

      Also, this story was written by a Frenchman.

  7. OriginallyBlue says:

    People are being so harsh to this girl. She’s not brown enough apparently. She’s half Indian, so she shouldn’t have the role. Yet people were saying why not check Bollywood for actors when it was reported that they were having a hard time. Such a mess. I mean no one asked for this movie, but I doubt it will do as well as the others.

    • Nyawira says:

      Read HHs post above. It’s not that she is half Indian. It’s that she is half white and is sone fair skinned as to look Caucasian. Don’t play dumb. You must know she was selected on the notion that light skin is more beautiful on a woman than dark skin as well as to endear her to the white girls who the merchandise will target. It’s a cynical and predictable move by Disney.

      • bros says:

        she could have both parents be Indian and be fair skinned. What’s cynical is subjecting people to racial purity tests for roles in films or plays.

      • WeAreAllMadeOfStars says:

        Well, yes. The fact that she has dark features and lighter skin makes her more marketable and relatable to white and non-white audiences alike. Movies are a business after all.

      • blogdis says:

        “lighter skin makes her more marketable and relatable to white and non-white audiences alike”

        And there you have it finally you are admitting that you would rather see the status quo maintained with white and adjacency to whiteness and stop hiding from behind your previous false equivalencies English Playing Scots and Irish ? LOL and what not when they ARE. NOT.THE . SAME. THING

        As for Movies being a money making business you are right , tell that to some of the biggest flops recently with tone deaf casting I.e Exodus, Great Wall, Aloha , Nina etat

      • WeAreAllMadeOfStars says:

        No, blogdis, I’m simply stating the truth. Why do you think advertisers increasingly move toward using models with ambiguous features and coloring? Because unlike the Christie Brinkleys and Alek Weks of the world, many people of varying backgrounds will find them relatable. And the burgeoning market that is Asia, which favors light skin for their own deeply ingrained cultural reasons, will also respond better to a lighter skinned actor. And no, I wouldn’t like to see the status quo maintained but nonetheless I understand why and how it is. It is shifting slowly away from the lily white ideal, but it isn’t totally transformed yet. All the flops you mention are a sign of changing times.

      • Veronica says:

        I am fine with acknowledging that this the “reality” that Hollywood deals in, but framing it as a truth is part of the problem. It’s a logical fallacy constructed by our own innate prejudices toward dark skin. It is purely subjective in its existence as a “truth.” In some cases, the prejudice stems from cultural colorism linked to socioeconomic and ethnic conflict. In the Western world, it’s linked to racism derived from European colonialism and the African slave trade.

        There is no logical or scientific basis for racial or ethnic discrimination; we created those norms to uphold hierarchical mechanics and further cultural agendas. The only way to undermine those internalized prejudices is by experience and education. The more we normalize non-white skin in media, the less we’ll think of it as the “other.” Plenty of millenials grew up with Aladdin and Jasmine being darkly tanned, and it didn’t stop the film from being a financial success. With a built in audience, Disney could have easily cast individuals with deeper skin tones. That they chose not to is a disappointment.

      • blogdis says:

        As you have acknowledged the status quo is slightly shifting , why is this ? Partly because people are talking up including on forums such as this
        When you seemingly disparage and mock people as oversensitive for speaking up , make false equivalencies about white presenting Europeans of one nationality portraying other white presenting Europeans of another nationality ( I mean really LOL) and insists oh well that’s the way of the world take it or leave it then you are in fact maintaining the status quo

        And @ Veronica well said and thanks

      • WeAreAllMadeOfStars says:

        @Veronica I was in no way using the worth “truth” in a quasi-religious or deterministic fashion. I agree with what you are saying, but the issue at hand here is casting a Disney movie. First comes the revolution, then the status quo begins to shift as it sees that norms have changed and that they need to change with them to stay relevant. Just think of all the celebs that jumped on the gay acceptance bandwagon after real people fought tooth and nail for decades to have human rights. Also, I was one of those millennials who grew up during the Disney princess Renaissance, and I think you’re quite mistaken about Jasmine and Aladdin’s skin tone. They look like whitified cartoon people with dark hair to me.

        @blogdis- Yes the status quo is shifting, but corporations move at a glacial pace and will do nothing that they feel will threaten their public image. The battle is fought by real people and after it is won, the status quo changes accordingly. Also, see if you can look into Irish history. After 700 years of being brutalized under colonial rule, it might not be as stupid a comparison as you’d like to make it out to be. Not everything comes down to colorism, although the Irish weren’t recategorized as white in America until the mid 19th century, now were they?

    • Fiorucci says:

      I think it will do better than the others. Is it just me or wasn’t it a MUCH better cartoon than beauty and the beast or anything else? And i did watch Beauty and the beast quite a few times but don’t remeber it with the same love: I haven’t checked out the other remakes but this one I will for sure.

  8. Ladyhands says:

    Aladdin itself is widely seen as taking place in the Middle East, regardless of location of the source material on which it is loosely based. A friend of mine is of Palestinian descent, and she was angered by Naomi’s casting. She is upset that her heritage is seen as interchangeable and that she still so rarely sees any representation of her heritage. This should have been one of those few times when she wouldn’t have been disappointed.

  9. Sonia says:

    I don’t have a problem with her being part indian. I have a problem with her being part white. They ALWAYS cast these half white women instead of people who are of full ethnicity. I know Kaiser is half-white half-Indian too, but colorism ABSOULTELY played a part in this. She is very white-passing.

    And that mena dude is fugly.

    • Kaiser says:

      I agree, there’s an argument about colorism to be had. She’s lighter than me!

      But I think the argument that “Indians can’t play a person in a fictional Middle Eastern country” is kind of meh.

    • Lucy says:

      Yes! Everything you just said, this is a cop-out, Disney knew they couldn’t cast a white woman with darker features so they went for the next best thing, a half-white woman.

    • Littlestar says:

      I agree, I feel like this is their way of picking a lighter more Eurocentric Jasmine instead of the very brown Jasmine in the movie. They do this a lot, there’s tons of WOC in Hollywood who are half white so that they can play ethnic but not too ethnic; Halle Berry, Maggie Q, Q’orinaqa Kilcher, Jessica Alba, Olivia Munn, Selena Gomez, and while they’re not actresses (for now) the Hadid sisters. Hollywood will hang on to casting white and the closest to white they can get for as long as they can. And I say this as a woman who is half white.

  10. Gene123 says:

    I dont mind the casting mainly because I was prepared to screw this up

    However, I did stumble upon the actor Raymond Ablack (Raj on Orphan Black) and he has the perfect Aladdin look and can sing although hes Indo-guyansese. I just feel like there were way more options out there than disney let on. Like they announce they are struggling to find actors and then the next day find actors? I feel like they just picked the next brown person who showed up

  11. Spark says:

    I feel like Will Smith isn’t ‘blue’ enough to be playing Genie.

    • Goats on the Roof says:

      I heard he can’t even float so I don’t know WTF Disney is doing casting him.

    • bros says:

      It’s a known fact that there are no african american genies, so why did they cast Will Smith as a genie? Weren’t there middle eastern genies with features that perfectly align with my stereotypical ideas of what a middle eastern genie would look and sound like?

  12. Caitlin_d says:

    Do you remember the outrage that David Oyelowo, a British man, played Martin Luther King Jr in Selma? A lot of people were upset because the felt the role should go to an African American.
    This feels the same to me. Although it’s compounded by the fact that she’s half-British.
    I just hope that the 1. Don’t darken her completion a la Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone and 2. She can actually sing and act, not just be a pretty passably brown girl…

  13. I think the Middle East part shouldn’t really matter because it isn’t 100% known where Agrabah is. In Aladdin they were all Muslims and there are Muslims in India so I don’t see that as a problem. At least they aren’t white washing it like they normally do. I also am excited to see Will smith as the genie. He couldn’t light a candle to Robin Williams, but I know he will do a good job.

    • Fiorucci says:

      There is no one to choose who could replace robin Williams. But smith has his own charms and great energy. Shame about the CO$ connection

  14. Bejkie says:

    Out of interest (and to see if this really is a case of Hollywood just lumping all ‘brown’ actors into the same category), I looked up where the story of Aladdin was originally set. Apparently in the Book of a Thousand Nights and a Night, Aladdin is from a Chinese/Cathay town, but because the story is mainly about Muslims, Disney avoided any cultural confusion by moving the story to the fictional Middle Eastern city of Agrabah, which may be based on Baghdad. So Aladdin was originally Chinese and Disney misrepresented him?
    I’m not really sure what to think about Naomi Scott being cast as Jasmine. She is beautiful, looks like Jasmine and can apparently sing and dance, but if the characters are meant to be Middle Eastern, it’s a shame they couldn’t keep searching until they found an actress that actually is, rather than an approximation. ‘Near enough’ isn’t good enough anymore. As for Aladdin himself, I hope Mena will make a great Aladdin and don’t think he looks ‘rough’, whatever that means.

    • Bejkie says:

      PS, sorry I wrote this comment when there were only two previously. I was interrupted and pressed post a while later, without realising many people way more well versed on the source material had posted above.

  15. Cleo says:

    Just as a side-note, Naomi is British, not Indian, in terms of nationality. She is ethnically half-white, half-Indian, but British. That was bugging me.

    As a white person, I defer to the POC on this thread sharing their opinions. As far as my own opinions go, I love their choice for Aladdin and meh on Jasmine. I think Mena’s both hot and cute, which works for the part. I saw some criticism of him in that he’s a Coptic Christian, though. Seriously, GTFO with that nonsense. That criticism is so gross and bigoted, I just can’t deal with it.

    I get the frustration with Naomi though. She was good in “Power Rangers”, so I see why they wanted her. She also has a Middle Eastern/Persian “look”, as many Middle Easterners are light-skinned. I understand though that a “look” is not enough, especially when it comes to a group so vilified and marginalized in media. I feel bad for her, though. The “not brown enough” talk is understandable, but inelegant and kind of offensive.

    • zeynep says:

      I saw some critique about Mena for being Christian too. You’re absolutely right: it’s bigoted and has no place in the discussions about his suitability for the role. IMO I think he looks good for the role.

    • WeAreAllMadeOfStars says:

      It’s Disney. They’re going to cast people light enough to appeal to their two majority audiences: White America and the Chinese. Also, they are highly unlikely to cast a Muslim since wading into controversy isn’t their thing.

      • Cleo says:

        You’re right about controversy that would surround a Muslim Aladdin, but at the same time, Coptics are a very vulnerable population. We make fun of victim-complex Western Christians, but the persecution of Coptic/Middle Eastern Christians is also no joke.

  16. MrsT says:

    I dont really see an issue as she looks like she could be Jasmine easily. He looks….rough….not boyish enough.

    • Bejkie says:

      Oh, now I understand what the first post meant by ‘rough’. Not boyish enough. Though perhaps with a shave, and movie makeup, I can still see a very young man

  17. Radley says:

    None of this casting thrills me. Maybe the spectacle of the movie will make up for the meh casting.

    Why are they even doing a live action Aladdin anyway? Tell a NEW story starring brown people. There’s plenty of stories yet to be told by Hollywood.

  18. Fiorucci says:

    They really both gorgeous. I’m a fan of the original, used to watch it on video a lot. Neither of them look like the cartoons. This actress reminds me of French singer alizee. Maybe the nose? It almost like they think Indian+white = Arab. I do wonder how many young Arab ladies/girls even in the west and outside of Muslim majority nations are actresses to the point that they’ve gone to acting school /class and have experience. For young people I’d assume parental support would be necessary.

  19. Astrobiologiste says:

    I was so disappointed by Maleficent that I have not seen nor will ever see a Disney Live Action film.

    I also don’t expect Smith to fill Robin Williams’ pointy genie shoes.

    • Mrs.Krabapple says:

      I agree, Maleficent was horrible! I skipped Beauty and the Beast because I couldn’t take Emma Watson’s poor singing in the trailers, and her acting is bad in the movies I have seen her in. As for Aladdin, . . . the fact that Guy Ritchie is directing this, and Will Smith will probably have a big role, means I’m skipping it for sure.

  20. diaphenes says:

    Why not report when people AREN’T outraged/upset instead?? Wouldn’t that be more unusual??! The only thing I am worried about is Guy Ritchie – why is he the director?? It just seems so wrong!!!

  21. Georgia says:

    Ah… I had always thought Aladdin was set in India :/
    I love the story and I’m really looking forward to the film. The actors are fine I guess… nothing can be worse than that awful French accent Ewan McGregor did in Beauty and the Beast.

  22. diana says:

    I’m all for representation of POC. At this point it’s beyond embarrassing how certain roles are been cast in movies.
    I am, however, also cringing really hard at some of the comments here and on twitter. “not brown enough”? Jesus *ucking christ…

    • littlemissnaughty says:

      I hope the actress never sees a thread like this. I understand some of the concerns voiced but f*ck me, the way people are talking about her. And him. He’s brown enough but ugly? Really? On Celebitchy? I’m a little grossed out because if anyone here said that about a woman …

      And you can bet that she’s been “too ethnic” or “too brown” most of her life and career. Now she’s suddenly too white. This woman will never win.

      • Elsa says:

        Uh, it’s called celebitchy, what did you expect? Like seriously…

      • littlemissnaughty says:

        Elsa, don’t. That’s not a license to be a total d*ck in the comments. You try sh*tting on a woman’s looks on here, especially her weight, and see what happens to the bitchy part.

  23. L says:

    I don’t understand the people saying that Mena is too “rough” to play Aladdin. Aladdin is a street rat that has to steal everything he has, he’s not a clean shaven pretty boy lol. Plus I think this guy is decently handsome. 🤷🏻‍♀️

    • Erica_V says:

      They literally call Aladdin a “diamond in the rough” in the movie so year I don’t see what that’s bad either.

  24. Word says:

    She probably tans really well…?

  25. Frigga says:

    They look more like the broke, poor man’s Walmart version of Jasmine and Aladdin. Not because they aren’t attractive, but they are both so boring. No idea how their acting skills are, so I guess I’m kind of being a douche, but seriously…this is going to suck either way. Just leave the Disney classics alone…

  26. Ayra. says:

    I don’t even why I’m bothering.. but yes, to all those with some sort of faux-outrage, she ISN’T brown enough and YES, you know it’s a thing. Jasmine was a brown skinned princess, this woman is obviously not, call it offensive, but she’s isn’t even close.
    I have no idea why some of you are not seeing this as an issue. They aren’t even close to the same skin tone. She doesn’t physically fit the part of a beloved character, and that’s obvious. Like a poster said, this would have been somewhat fine it Jasmine wasn’t already well known for her skin, but she is.

    How are people supposed to be content with the casting of a light half-white, half indian person for a character that has almost always been considered to be a brown-skinned Arab? Yes, there’s a few Indian influences in the film, but no. She’s very pretty, but again, no.

    Let’s go find a Korean Mulan while we’re at it.
    Or a light skin Nina Simone.

  27. burnsie says:

    Why are people dismissing that Middle Easterners are upset that an Indian woman was cast as Jasmine? If this was for an African-American role or an Asian role, people would be up in arms, but all of a sudden it’s a ME role and people think this is crossing the line. Smdh. More of the typical ME erasure

    • me says:

      I agree. As an Indian, I think this role should have went to a ME actress. But I guess us brown people are all the same (sarcasm).

    • Anon says:

      Thank you!! Some of these comments are so dismissive and condescending.

      • bros says:

        what’s dismissive is not even understanding the broader MENA region, nor where Aladdin was originally set, nor understanding cartoon pigment as somehow not an accurate map to actual humans, nor not freaking out that they are speaking English rather than X language. the calls for purity are stupid.

  28. perplexed says:

    I have no idea what Princess Jasmine is supposed to look like in the source material, but maybe everybody is basing their perception off the cartoon. In the cartoon, she is darker than this girl.

    This girl is quite pretty, regardless of skin tone, so I figure that’s why she was cast.

  29. Katherine says:

    You know what’s wrong with this casting? That my first thought was ‘what’s wrong with this casting?’ because I had no clue Jasmine was Arab, not Indian.

  30. me says:

    I went to Disney World a few years ago and they had a beautiful brown skinned Arab girl playing the role of Jasmine. She was breathtaking…if she can act well enough and still works there, they should hire her !

  31. hmm says:

    he threads his eyebrows and it is driving me nuts

  32. magnoliarose says:

    The roll out was a fail. They make a big self congratulatory statement about they are ethnically sensitive blah blah they looked high and low blah blah but then threw Indian into the mix like it was just a side note. They already knew who they were casting and they knew it may be problematic so they create a fake backstory but wouldn’t you know she isn’t full Indian even but that’s ok because she is part right? They are the ones who brought up the ethnic issue and then they cast her? They made this front and center so now people are letting them know how they feel about it.
    This is like making a movie about a full figured woman and then casting Natalie Portman but rest assured she plans to gain 20 pounds for the role and wear padding. Also releasing a statement asserting that they simply couldn’t find a full figured actress who fit the story.

    Maybe the movie will be so good that it is overlooked but if they spray tan her or darken her up with makeup I hope the backlash is spectacular.

    • perplexed says:

      That’s a really good point about them congratulating themselves, and then being surprised by the response.

      • magnoliarose says:

        That is what irritates me about this whole thing. This is not the actress’ fault but now she is connected to it. All of this could have been avoided.

  33. Rtms says:

    Wasn’t the original story of Alladian and Ali Baba based on Asian Indian origin? It’s been adapted to fit different cultures and retold using their cultural backgrounds. I simply see this as another adaption being updated. I find no problem with either actor.

  34. Aang says:

    I think they both look to old. As a mixed race person I feel for her. I get it from both sides. I’m not ethnic looking enough for my Native friends and white people make it very clear that I can’t pass for white by always asking “what are you” as if I’m another species, or the constant comments that they wish they had a “tan” in the winter like me.

  35. Nina says:

    The problem I have is that there is certainly a tendency to cast mixed actresses (particularly fair-skinned mixed actresses like Scott) to play characters who are not supposed to be mixed. It plays right into that racist mentality that darker-skinned women are seen as less attractive than their white counterparts. They can look ethnic without looking “too ethnic”.

  36. reverie says:

    Why all the complaining? So we should get an Arab actress to play a fictional nationality because its closest to what we think is Arab? I’d be more offended if they got an Arab actress to play this nonsense role in a movie already rife with offensive Arab stereotypes.

  37. A.Key says:

    Personally I think their ethnicity isn’t the problem (how absurd) I think their LOOK is the problem. They just don’t look the part. Especially her, she definitely does not look exotic enough or beautiful enough to play Jasmine. Hopefully they can compensate with talent.

  38. Ollie says:

    Wait isn’t she the Pink Power Ranger? I actually thought she is white/latina. She’s definitely super pretty.

    I guess with the actual political situation (Muslim Ban and terrorism fear) they were too afraid to cast actual arabian. What a shame.

    Disney’s Aladdin plays in a fictive arabian country. Jasmine is the daughter of an arabian Sultan. The movie even starts with the song Arabian Nights. Not Indian Nights, not Egypt Nights or Chinese Nights.

    I bet Guy Richie makes this movie something between Bollywood and King Arthur.

    • perplexed says:

      Yeah, she’s the Pink Power Ranger.

      I saw her in an interview and she seemed charming enough (well, as herself.)

  39. teacakes says:

    …. it’s all very well to talk about how this is a fictional country and any brown person will do, but the 1992 movie literally opened with a song called Arabian Nights. I’d say that’s a pretty strong hint about where in the world this story is set and the origins of the characters.

    That said, the ‘not brown enough’ Internet racial purity paperbag test Naomi Scott is being subjected to following her casting, is gross. I’m Indian and I have friends of full Indian descent like me who are lighter skinned than her – one of them was my best friend from school, and Naomi actually looks a freakish lot like her when she smiles.

    Colorism is real but I have to say it, it doesn’t give anyone the right to declare her not Indian. And neither does ethnic ambiguity – plenty of non-white Indians look like they could be from other places, it doesn’t make them not Indian. I really feel like this anger is being misdirected at this girl because everyone is more caught up in how she isn’t Indian enough, than in targeting Disney for their screwups) And don’t even get me started on the ridiculousness of people going off on Mena Massoud’s being Coptic – he’s still Arab, isn’t he? As Aladdin should be.

    • sanders says:

      Ah yes, that wonderful source material, the original disney movie where the song Arabian Nights had a lovely little verse like this:

      “Oh, I come from a land From a faraway place Where the caravan camels roam. Where they cut off your ear If they don’t like your face It’s barbaric, but hey, it’s home. ”

      If it weren’t for arab americans protesting, that verse would have remained. Disney was forced to change it though they kept the word barbaric.
      I would not look to Disney to define what is the appropriate cultural identity for the leads. Really, the level of racism in the original movie helped to create a perfect climate for islamophobia to take root. It dehumanized arabs and anyone with dark skin and non-european features, no subtleties were needed. This is what they fed to a bunch of young kids who came of age during the Iraq invasions. These depictions are not neutral. They have an impact and helps to fuel the indifference to wars in the middle east and violence against arabs, muslims, sikhs and south asians living in the US.
      I get why people are concerned with the colorism in the casting. It could very well end up similar to the original with the villains being cast darker and less european looking.

  40. hogtowngooner says:

    I’m not saying Disney shouldn’t have tried harder to cast actual ME actors, but no matter who they chose, they were going to get dumped on.

  41. Veronica says:

    I actually totally forgot the original story was set in China. I’m so used to Western interpretations that set it closer to India or the Middle East. Whomp whomp.

    As a white woman, I don’t know if it’s really my place to comment on the casting, though I think it’s a fair criticism to assume minorities are interchangeable. I am bothered (though sadly not surprised) that they went with lighter skin tones than in the animated film. Jasmine and Aladdin were actually pretty deeply tan skinned in the original cartoon, and portrayals of them in recent media have been trending lighter, which kind of just proves the point people are trying to make about the casting. It was a great opportunity to get darker skin tones on screen for a film that already had a built in audience, and this is just another missed opportunity.

    • perplexed says:

      I have to admit I kind of assumed they would go with the “casting” used in the cartoon, and am surprised they didn’t.

  42. poorlittlerichgirl says:

    This sh*t is exhausting. I need a nap now.

  43. Originaltessa says:

    My 2 cents. Disney is casting the film with Arab, black, and Indian actors to create an ambiguous “other” land somewhere near Africa and the Arabian peninsula. They’re never going to pin down exactly where in the world it’s supposed to be and as casting unfolds I think they’re going to mix in many other actors of varying origin. I think Disney taking on such a huge film that won’t have a single white actor in it is at least a move in a more diverse direction. Picking apart every casting choice is going to put a stigma on the project I’m not sure it deserves.

    • magnoliarose says:

      I believe they created a controversy that didn’t have to happen. Making it a big deal wasn’t necessary. They should have just announced the casting and moved on without delving into ethnicity. There might have been some critics but not like it is now. This is a beloved story and people are attached to it.

  44. Elsa says:

    Lol I knew it. So predictable.

    I knew disney would get a half white girl with lighter skin tone because that’s what they’ve always done and it aligns with their agenda to promote ws. They have even lightened the cartoon versions. In the original both aladdin and jasmine were a dark brown color, now they are beige.
    Whatever. I won’t be watching.

  45. perplexed says:

    The funny part is that they probably could have found an Arab or fully Indian girl who is as light as she is. A lot of Bollywood actresses are quite fair. And my general perception of Arabs is that many of them are on the lighter side.

    I’m not sure what the projected response would have been if they had chosen a lighter-skinned person with the full Asian or Middle Eastern ethnicity though. I just think it’s sort of interesting from a social perspective that they went with a half-white/half-Indian person when they probably could have easily found someone of fully ethnicity with the same colouring as her. Although maybe her acting is really good?

  46. Erica_V says:

    I just hope they don’t screw up the singing as badly as they did Beauty & The Beast (the exception being “Evermore” which was beautifully sung by Dan.)

  47. Lalu says:

    I just feel bad for some of these actresses. This kind of reminds me of what happened to the girl that was in spider man… Can’t think of her name. But I think they were complaining because she isn’t white. I thought that was ridiculous and this seems ridiculous too.

  48. melinda says:

    Arabs are Semites like Jews, thus white and of course India is not in the Middle East.

    So much crass ignorance…

  49. melinda says:

    And how were the Jews called in Europe during the 19th and 20th centuries, and how are they still talked about in certain part of Eastern Europe today?
    How is steven bannon with his acolytes calling Jews ..?
    oh wait!

  50. Guest says:

    Naomi Scott is very pretty and I think she will be a good Jasmine. Plus she’s not that well known. Unlike Emma Watson for belle. I’m more upset about will Smith as the genie vs scott.

  51. Jane says:

    She looks white but the studio gets to promote the color card. This annoyance is similar to Meghan Markle except it’s her and the royal family promoting the color card without her actually having dark skin. If you have to inform people about a prior generation’s skin color, that’s a good sign that label no longer applies to you for “promotional” purposes. I’m Italian and both of them look like me though another comparison could be the Kardashians who are half Persian. Even Kris who’s not Persian looks like Naomi and Meghan. It’s about having dark hair, white skin, and a geneological disclaimer.

  52. melinda says:

    The Kardashians are half Armenian not Persian.
    And Meghan Markle does’t look one bit Italian, Mediterranean or white. She does look like a very clear skinned half black half white woman – who -as we have seen pictures of her as a child /teenager- uses hair chemicals to straighten her hair.

    • Elsa says:

      Before anyone knew anything about Megan Markle, people thought she was white.
      Just check old comments on different websites – no one knew she was half black.
      So yes, she can pass for white. However, she does not because she is proud of her black mother. By the way, hair texture can change with age. Even kate middleton wear hair pieces. Nothing unusual about it.

  53. HK9 says:

    You know, the comments regarding colourism have merit. But when I first saw this, all I thought of was here’s another reboot that’s going to be boring AF. So now, Disney is not only going to reinforce stereotypes, but bore me at the same time. Personally I miss the innovation that Disney used to be known for. Yes yes I know you’re got to make money to finance something more risky but frankly I want something new, or at least new to me. These reboots are killing me. I want a story/characters/concepts that are new or put together in a way that’s fresh. This will make money and I will go if one of my godchildren want me to take them but I’m not putting $$ down for this of my own volition because I already know what happens.

  54. Elsa says:

    So I was really excited for this movie because I thought I was going to see a young, beautiful, brown Jasmine like in the cartoon movie version, but instead got the same old face we always see on the big screen (I’m talking phenotype, not necessarily genotype here).
    So yeah, I won’t be watching. Plus aladdin is not cute either ugh.
    It’s like they intentionally wanted to sabotage this movie.
    But hey, if middle easterners are fine with this casting then I really have no dog in this fight.
    Many of them want to be white anyways, same with Indians. So many suffer from self hate and would rather actors who look nothing like them (the majority) represent them, even half whites like naomi scott. Oh well.

  55. Jeesie says:

    I’m not really sure what the problem is, other than warped perceptions.

    I’m Arab. We’re mostly a pretty light bunch, just with more consistently dark features. I’m fairly dark for my particular background, darker than a lot of my peers from my country, but still only a couple of shades darker than this actress, and I’m ‘full’ Arab.

    North African Muslims are usually darker, obviously, as are many South Asian Muslims. There’s more variance in Syria and Lebanon due to their past as trading hubs, but in many ME countries the vast majority of people look whiter or about the same as most Italians or Greeks. In the West I’m usually taken for Italian when I’m in Western clothing, and as I say I’m on the browner side for my background.

    I feel like the fact that a lot of ‘Arab’ characters in US and UK productions are played by Pakistani’s/Indians and Egyptians and so on rather than actors from say, the UAE, kind of skews perception of how brown we are as a group.

    Anyway, given the source material an Indian actress is perfectly suitable. An awful lot of 1001 nights comes from India, and Disney’s Aladdin leaned into that even more.

    • Wren33 says:

      Yeah, while I understand the frustration of limited roles for Middle Eastern actors, comments of her being too light seem odd to me, because many ME women are quite fair.

  56. MrsT says:

    I feel like this argument casts an interesting light on the plight of mixed race people. They are always too dark or too light to be casted in most peoples eyes. No-one feels ‘represented’ by them. It must be so frustrating for the actress to get her big break and be torn apart for her skin colour.

  57. Tan says:

    The Aladjn and Jasmine on Once Upon a Time, Disney and Lost team take on fairy tales imo were really good.

    Jasmine Actress is also of Indian descent but she fitted the look quite well. One thing would be she was “too” old to be a big screen Jasmine maybe.

    On that note, do we have enough actresses of middle eastern descent?

  58. Sadie Marie says:

    Yes can we learn to point out colorism without calling mixed race people “white”? It reeks of cultural erasure. Also a lot of us mixed race kids are either flat out rejected or used as tokens by the white parent.

    It’s not the actor’s fault it is the system. I can see maybe throwing shade on Hallie Berry who has an established career and can afford to turn down roles offered to her out of blatant colorism. A power ranger movie is hardly A-list enough to start taking a stand.

  59. AJ says:

    Disney’s Aladdin was inspired by Agra, India, Baghdad, Iraq, and Aqaba, Jordan and is set near the Jordan River. So, the fictional land, Agrabah, takes place in the Middle East. I can see why people are upset that Naomi Scott is Princess Jasmine, but everyone needs to understand that Agrabah is pretty much a melting pot.

  60. justme says:

    Because the material they are using for songs etc. belong to Disney. That’s why.

  61. Jeesie says:

    It’s not ‘up to’ Hollywood. They’re not doing it as a public service. Disney owns the rights to their Aladdin, so only they can make this particular film, and they’ve chosen to for their own reasons (money).

    As for ME investors making their own version, 1000 and 1 Nights has always been of more interest to the West than the ME. The more well known stories are very heavily South Asian, North African and Persian and historically the text wasn’t seen as beloved or a classic in the Arabic world. That still holds true today.

    Bollywood frequently uses it as inspiration.