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Disney Admits To ‘Darkening White People’ For Live-Action Film ‘Aladdin’
By Yoon Sann Wong, 09 Jan 2018
Mid 2017, Twitter came to the aid of Disney after the latter struggled to find a cast for its live-action remake of Aladdin.
After announcing its diverse main cast, the show unfortunately came under fire once more for deliberately creating a new character to add a white actor inside.
Now, British newspaper The Sunday Times has reported that Disney “says it resorted to darkening white people for roles requiring skills that could not be readily found in the Asian community.”
The makeup was used to help multiple white extras, including “stunt men, dancers and camel handlers,” look more Middle Eastern for crowd scenes.
These are being recorded at Longcross Film Studios, located in the English county of Surrey, approximately 50-minutes drive from London, and noted by Indiewire to be home to “a 1.1 million-person population of Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, and Arab descendants.”
The Sunday Times quoted Kaushal Odedra, a onetime stand-in for one of the film’s lead actors.
“On one set, two palace guards came in and I recognised one as a Caucasian actor, but he was now a darkly tanned Arab. I moved inside the marquee where there were 10 extras and two were Caucasian, but they had been heavily tanned to look Middle Eastern,” recounted Odedra.
He says that he also saw around 20 “very fair-skinned” actors queuing to have their skins darkened, but didn’t raise any issues with “the almost entirely white crew, [which] seemed somewhat intimidating.”
The film’s director Guy Ritchie declined to comment for The Sunday Times’ story.
BAFTA-nominated producer and film editor Riaz Meer described Disney’s actions as “an insult to the whole industry.”
“The talent exists and is accessible and there’s no way that Asian extras could not have been hired to meet the needs of the film. Failing to hire on-screen talent of the right ethnic identity to meet the clear needs of this production is just plain wrong. We expect better from all filmmakers,” explained Meer.
Disney responded to The Sunday Times with the statement, “This is the most diverse cast ever assembled for a Disney live-action production. More than 400 of the 500 background performers were Indian, Middle Eastern, African, Mediterranean and Asian.”
The show is scheduled for a 2019 release with main cast including Mena Massoud as ‘Aladdin’, Naomi Scott as ‘Jasmine’, Will Smith as the ‘Genie’, and Marwan Kenzari as ‘Jafar’.
[via The Sunday Times and Indiewire, main image via Shutterstock]
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