Naomi Scott: ‘Let me put this out there, I am not an English rose’

76th Golden Globe Awards Arrivals

Naomi Scott covers the April issue of British Vogue. She promoting the live-action Aladdin, which comes out in May. This is a pretty standard introduction to a 25-year-old actress who just scored the role of Jasmine, the role with which she’ll likely be identified for the rest of her career. It reminds me a bit of Daisy Ridley’s introduction as Rey in the Star Wars movies. Obviously, Disney has the machinery in place to “introduce” these ingenues and their rollouts are going to feel similar. Naomi is 25 years old and this is how British Vogue described her: “A young Gujarati Indian-Brit from Essex, she is a committed Christian who married at 21, and is balancing a booming career with a set of personal priorities that many unsung women today share.” A British-Indian woman who is a committed Christian? And she’s playing a character who is generally thought of as Arab? That still bugs me. I mean, I appreciate the fact that Disney didn’t cast a Fanning sister as Jasmine, but still – there’s a f–king difference between Gujarati Indian and fantasy-Arab. Some highlights from Naomi’s interview:

She was the Nearly Girl: “I remember thinking in auditions, ‘OK, this is it, this is the one.’ And then not getting it. And then the next time thinking, “OK, this is the one.” And not getting it again. I was the “Nearly Girl” for a long time.”

Auditioning for Jasmine: “I saw her as a young woman, not a teenager. With a mature strength that can cut you down. So I said to them, “Just to let you know, I want to play her strong, and if that’s not what you’re looking for, that’s OK, but it’s not for me.”‘

Whether she considers herself an English Rose: “’Oh, let me put this out there, I am not an English rose. And when I was 17, it felt like there was no other way of being a British actress. Growing up, my favourite movie was Bend It Like Beckham – I even played football in that same park as a kid. That was me.”

Getting the part in the rebooted Charlie’s Angels: “[This film is] about women at work. You don’t see much about their personal lives or who they’re dating. It’s about the agency going global, getting into intelligence and tech, whistleblowing. You don’t see bikini shots of their bums.’

[From British Vogue via The Daily Mail]

Well… this feels unnecessarily shady? “You don’t see bikini shots of their bums.” The Drew Barrymore-Charlie’s Angels movies were silly and dumb and they made tons of money because the women had fun and they embraced being sexy. Which was very much like the TV show too. I guess everything needs a “dark” and “gritty” reboot – the Christopher Nolan-ifcation of the Charlie’s Angels franchise. If this Charlie’s Angels isn’t going to be about bouncy hair and sexy-dumb fun, what is going to be? Dark heroines in sackcloth, sitting at their computers.

As for the English Rose conversation… it’s similar to the “girl next door” and “America’s sweetheart” labels we apply to ONLY white women here in America. Like, only white British actresses get called English Roses. I don’t blame Naomi for shrugging that off, but it’s worth having that conversation at some point in the future.

Photos courtesy of British Vogue and WENN.

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19 Responses to “Naomi Scott: ‘Let me put this out there, I am not an English rose’”

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  1. Valiantly Varnished says:

    Disney did the cop out move casting her. They got a girl that looks “ethnically ambiguous” so if they get called out on casting her they can point and say “but she’s Indian”. If they had cast a brown skin Indian girl maybe they could get away with that. But they didn’t. They cast the “white-passing” girl.
    There are amazing Arab actresses that could have easily played this part.

    • BaronSamedi says:


    • Eliza says:

      I was confused by the trailer of the location of the story. I assumed modern day Syria (Ali Baba’s location, idk given the song Arabian Nights) and I did get some Arab influence but also looks like there’s a Bollywood dance number so also Indian influence as well.

      • KHLBHL says:

        It was directed by a white dude, so…I’m not expecting much in terms of cultural accuracy. But also “Aladdin” (the story itself) was definitely Arabic in origin but the original story is set in China, which was a common practice in storytelling at the time to make the setting more mystical and exotic. But the story has a lot of cultural anachronisms that are more specific to an Arab region (demonstrating it’s basically an Arab story set in China for storytelling purposes). Plus the 1001 Nights was curated by some French dudes in the 1700s. That’s saying a lot too. I agree with above; Disney definitely did a cop-out.

    • otaku fairy... says:

      That probably was their thought process.

  2. BaronSamedi says:

    I can’t take anything she says seriously. She’s 25 and gorgeous. She looks ethnically ambiguous in a way that is just boring at this point. Colorism is alive and well in India and the Arab world so casting her plays right into that.

    I hope this comment gets past the moderation this time. I don’t know why talking about colorism got so controversial suddenly.

  3. Jb says:

    Looks like they tried to make her appear more tan than she is in both the movie(trailer) and the cover page. If you’re not going to cast an actual tan/dark skinned actress whyyyyy go overboard using filters trying to make it only look like she is!!!

  4. DS9 says:

    I’d like to criticize but she’s 25. She’ll learn one day.

  5. Lolly says:

    She sounds very young in this interview. Almost like she’s trying to rebel? I don’t know, I’m still very upset at her casting so I don’t think I’ll be seeing this movie. Which is sad because Aladdin is one of my favorite movies.

  6. perplexed says:

    There are Arabs who are light-skinned (i.e see Amal Clooney). In that sense, even if they had cast an Arab actress, we don’t know if she would have been “darker.” (I know Jasmine was darker in the cartoon, but there’s no guarantee a darker-skinned actress who is Arab would have been cast. The Arab actress could have easily been lighter too).

    I think she was cast because she’s quite pretty. That’s generally how it works in Hollywood.

    I don’t know if I find anything she said particularly odd either. She probably really doesn’t see herself as an English rose if Keira Knightley and Kate Winslet are the templates for that.

    I think pointing out that there won’t be bikini shots in the Charlie’s Angels movies might simply be a point of fact (if true).

  7. Brittany says:

    What’s the point in making non-sexy Charlie’s Angels? We already have the non-sexy misfire of Lara Croft and it had Alicia Vikander at the peak of her Oscar glory, this one is two no names and KStew and it’s gonna be some feminist bs?

    • Original Jenns says:

      “Feminist bs” just nullifies your prior and future arguments.

    • Haapa says:

      Feminism fights for the right for women to wear whatever they want, sexy and non-sexy alike. Sounds like you need to read more about feminism.

  8. joro says:

    She’s beautiful but she was not the right choice for Jasmine. Other posters have already mentioned the reason why Disney wimped out on this choice. The standards of beauties for women in Western culture is so skewed and warped. By picking her as Jasmine Disney get to walk the line.

    I’m still annoyed we went from having Lupita and Janelle possibly being in Charlie’s angles to this chick and another biracial. What’s the point of remaking CA if you’re not really going to push the envelope.

    • HRH says:

      Re: “another biracial”
      I feel like this statement is belittling people that are bi- or multiracial. Biracial people are often treated like they don’t belong to any group, and their connection to their culture on either side is seen as diminished or somehow less than. We don’t need to add to that.

  9. Ladykarinsky says:

    I don’t care how ethnically ambiguous she looks, the main point is that she’s not Arab, playing an Arab character, when there are Arab actresses to be found. Amal Clooney looks more like how I’d imagine a real life Jasmine – this girl looks mall basic. Pretty – but not Jasmine.

  10. JustSayin' says:

    She’s half white…

  11. Ladyhands says:

    I was staying at a friend’s house when the casting came out. She is Palestinian and her disappointment was so sad. She said she knew all along that that wouldn’t cast an actual Arabic girl. The casting sucks!