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Disney Looking for Middle Eastern Leads for Their Live Action Aladdin Remake

The company looks to be trying to avoid accusations of whitewashing at all costs.

As we know well by now, Disney is doing a live action remake for just about all of their classics. The Jungle Book, Alice in Wonderland (maybe not so much the sequel), and Cinderella were already a hit, Beauty and the Beast is coming out next week, and remakes for The Lion King (with Donald Glover and the return of James Earl Jones!), MulanDumboThe Little Mermaid, and Aladdin have all been confirmed, along with live action sequels to The Jungle Book and Maleficent. This week, we’re hearing news about Aladdin — the casting call has been made, and it has some requirements!

Comedian Dani Fernandez posted the casting call earlier this week, which The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed as being authentic. The casting call reads up top “These characters are Middle Eastern,” also asking for 18 to 25-year-olds. They have to be able to sing, too, but I’m going to say that’s been a requirement for almost every Disney movie ever. “Dance experience is a plus,” the poster reads, but anyone who’s ever applied for a job knows that pretty much means required.

If you want to be super cynical, you could rightly point out that the casting call says “These characters are Middle Eastern,” and not necessarily that the actors and actresses themselves need to be Middle Eastern. But, it’s unlikely there’s whitewashing trickery afoot here — when we heard about both the Aladdin and Mulan remakes for the first time, Disney had already confirmed that the Mulan cast would consist of Chinese actors and actresses. It’s unlikely they’d change it up here.

Movie projects getting called out for whitewashing has turned up in the Twitter era, with more and more people dissatisfied with the lack of leading roles for people of color in general. It looks like Disney is taking a shrewd approach here — they’re finally moving towards diverse casting, and doing it with their classics, which are as close as you can get to guaranteed hits. Not only could that earn them even more fans both domestically and globally, it creates some pretty incredible opportunities for young actors and actresses — I don’t know that there’s a surer path to superstardom than getting your first big break as a Disney princess!

Photo at top features Deniz Aldeniz who plays Aladdin on Once Upon a Time, he’s a Turkish-Australian actor.