Non-Arab Actress Cast as Jasmine in Upcoming Disney Flick, “Aladdin”;” Comes Under Fire for Un-Authentic Casting
Actor, Mena Massoud and Actress, Naomi Scott, have landed the roles of Aladdin and Jasmine, respectively, in the upcoming reboot of the Disney classic, “Aladdin.” The announcement of the casting was made on Saturday, last week at the recent D23 (Official Disney Fan Club) event. Joining the two will be Hollywood A-lister, Will Smith, as Genie.
The Aladdin cast just has been announced 🎬:
• Aladdin — Mena Massoud
• Jasmine — Naomi Scott
• Genie — Will Smith pic.twitter.com/wSs2qIMj3i
— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) July 15, 2017
The casting update came after a long search that involved over 2000 auditions across the globe. Earlier rumors suggested that Riz Ahmed or Dev Patel may don the role of Aladdin. However, Disney has decided to take on the challenge of casting a relatively unknown name for the protagonist’s role.
naomi scott should've been batgirl so jasmine could be played by a middle eastern woman im so TIRED of hollywood not knowing how to cast poc pic.twitter.com/EDAfpw9Owb
— gabi 🍒 (@harleivy) July 15, 2017
But, fans are still upset with the casting of Naomi Scott, a non-Arab, as Jasmine. Scott, who came into the spotlight after starring in Power Rangers, is of British-Indian heritage. Critics see this as Hollywood’s poor attempt at suggesting that Indian and Middle Eastern women are the same.
i love naomi scott but i don't love the "brown ppl are interchangeable" idea that hollywood believes in so it's a no from me lmao
— T'CHALLA 🍑🍯✨ (@dirzacksnyder) July 15, 2017
All these Arab actresses on the planet and they cast half-white, half-Indian Naomi Scott as Jasmine. Indian isn't middle-eastern, Hollywood.
— Sarah Khatami (@SarahKhatami) July 15, 2017
However, there are those who believe that the reaction is unwarranted as the story itself is fictional. Even so, it cannot be denied that “Aladdin” is a tale originally borrowed from “One Thousand and One Nights,” which is a collection of Middle Eastern folk tales.
— LudiLin (@ludi_lin) July 17, 2017
— RJ_CYLER (@rj_cyler) July 15, 2017
On the other hand, Christians are particularly happy about the casting choice as Naomi Scott is believed to be a devout Christian. Scott, who played the Pink Ranger in the recent Power Rangers reboot, is the daughter of pastors who serve at the UK Bridge Church. In a recent interview, the actress even spoke of how the church played a significant role in her life.
Scott also happens to be a talented musician. She credits her background in gospel music as being a strong influence on her passion for music. In an interview with Huffington Post, the actress mentioned that she had a “spiritual connection” with gospel music and that it was her first love, with acting being her second.
The actress’s Christian leanings became apparent after she posted about the persecution of Christians on one of her social media pages. In her post, she mentioned that she was praying for her Christian brothers and sisters in Egypt, who are often targeted by the Muslim majority for their religious beliefs.
Aladdin will begin shooting in London, next month. Casting for the roles of the villain Jafar, the Sultan and Jafar’s sidekick, Lago, is still being carried out.