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Disney to Cast Middle Eastern Lead Actors for Live-Action ‘Aladdin’ Movie

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Aladdin (Disney)
Disney is making a live action adaptation of its hit ‘Aladdin’ movie. (Disney)


Advocates for more diversity in Hollywood have had their wish granted—at least for Disney’s live action adaptation of Aladdin.

The studio is looking to cast Middle Eastern actors for the lead roles for the movie based on the 1992 animated blockbuster, according to the casting call notice which surfaced on Twitter Wednesday, and was flagged by London’s The Independent newspaper.

That’s a major change from the way Hollywood has handled casting Middle Eastern characters in recent years. Critics slammed movies like 2014’s Exodus: Gods and Kings and last year’s Gods of Egypt for casting white actors (Christian Bale and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as the respective leads) as Egyptians. And Jake Gyllenhaal didn’t exactly look like a Prince of Persia.

Actors of Middle Eastern descent have often complained that the only roles for them in Hollywood seem to be as terrorists.

But recently, there has been more scrutiny in the studio conference rooms, especially after the #OscarsSoWhite controversy. Disney announced in October that it would use an all-Asian cast in its live action reboot of Mulan.