tWhile most of us were jumping around over the drop of Disney-Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War last week, many of us may have overlooked another good news.
The only Chinese ethnicity Disney princess Hua Mulan is set to film a live-action adaptation with Liu Yifei as lead! YES, A CHINESE CHINESE! Whitewash is dead! #2017Dec
Growing up, many of us loved Disney Mulan movie the most because she was strong, incredibly kind and filial. While other Disney Princess movies were good, but none of them had a plotline with such gravity.
Filial daughter disguises to be a man to fight for war in her old father’s place?
*cue Reflection song ♬ “Who is that girl I see, staring straight back at me?” ♪
Mulan was on another level. Other princesses were just searching for love but Mulan was making history! Okay, fictitious (legend) history I mean.
The search for Mulan’s actress wasn’t an easy job for the Hollywood. In fact, it took them one year and auditioned almost 1,000 actresses across the globe for the role. To make things harder, the actress they were looking for had to possess English fluency, credible martial arts, and the most ineffable requirement of all: star power!
Liu Yifei was Disney’s holy-grail. Nicknamed as Fairy Sister by the Chinese public, she owns many Asian’s hearts for her pure and innocent looks and persona.
Here are some of her prominent roles she played in the past.
1. The Return of the Condor Heroes, 2006 (Shén Diāo Xiá Lǚ)
2. Demi-Gods and Semi-Devil, 2003 (Tiān Lóng Bā Bù)
3. The Assassins, 2012 (Tóng Què Tái)
4. The Forbidden Kingdom, 2008 (Gōng Fū Zhī Wáng)
5. Outcast, 2014
Liu Yifei’s prominence doesn’t just come from TV and Chinese cinema, she was cast as lead actress several times in Hollywood-Chinese movies too (eg. The Forbidden Kingdom and Outcast).
Besides, Shén Diāo Xiá Lǚ and Tiān Lóng Bā Bù are household names and legendary titles—they were the TV series we grew up with. Aren’t you glad that Disney made a perfect choice?
Whitewashing in Hollywood cinema
In 2015, when Disney just announced the plan for Mulan live-action movie, netizens were afraid that the movie would be whitewashed. More than 112,000 people signed a petition demanding an Asian actress be cast in the lead role.
It was hard to blame them. Too many Chinese characters were played by white actresses in the past and the phenomenon still prevails. It really frustrates Asians to see our beloved characters were portrayed by foreign skins—culturally speaking.
To make you appreciate Disney’s decision that cast a culturally appropriate actress for the role, here are five beloved Asian characters played by white actresses.
1. Scarlett Johansson – Ghost in the Shell, 2017
2. Emma Stone – Aloha, 2015
3. Tilda Swinton – Doctor Strange, 2016
4. Noah Ringer – The Last Airbender, 2010
5. Nat Wolff – Netflix’s Death Note, 2017