You'd think it would be a no-brainer that when a movie's main protagonist is a person of color, a person of color should be odds on to fill said role; especially in the 21st century, amidst our supposed post-racial society.
But with the ever-rapidly growing disenchantment over the whitewashing of POC characters in movies produced by Hollywood, a change seems further away from coming. Most recently it was Disney's turn to go under the microscope with their impending live-action iteration of the 1998 animated classic Mulan.
With the successes of the live-action Cinderella and Maleficent, The Mouse House's iconic retelling of a young Chinese girl who disguises herself as a man to battle the Huns and save her ailing father will be having another shot at the limelight.
But with that great news comes the crazy fact that Disney is already facing huge pressure from its fans to cast an Asian actress in the lead.
A Growing Chorus
A petition, founded by Natalie Molnar, calling for Disney to cast an actress of Asian descent in the titular role has recently started doing the rounds online, and has already amassed over 80,000 signatures.
Titled 'Tell Disney You Don't Want A Whitewashed Mulan!', Molnar states in the manifesto that the petition exists because:
"Whitewashing implies that people of color cannot be heroes (although they may at times be villains or supporting characters), leaving it far more difficult for countless children around the world to see themselves in the stories they love and think that they too can make a difference."
I'm still trying to get my head around the fact that this petition is necessary today, but after the events of Johnny Depp's casting as Tonto in the The Lone Ranger reboot, Rooney Mara's casting as the Native American princess Tiger Lily in Pan, Ridley Scott's Exodus: Gods and Kings and his unwillingness to cast “Mohammed so-and-so from such-and-such” in a lead role, amongst many others, means that in an age where we can communicate with anyone around the world and land on Mars, a POC will still be overlooked for a role of their own race.
But if Disney were to cast its live-action Mulan from the wealth of Asian actresses that could be available and willing to take on such an iconic role, who could they turn to?
Here are a few choices for them to get their beards a'strokin':
Still relatively unknown in the US, the X-Men: Days of Future Past alum would be quickly catapulted into the A-list with a starring role in live-action Mulan. Helpfully, if the remake turns out to be a musical, the model turned actress can also sing. A regular talent!
TV's current Mulan on ABC's Once Upon A Time, Chung is already no stranger to playing the legendary warrior. And she literally kicks ass in the role too! With a host of awesome roles in movies such as Big Hero 6, Sin City: A Dame To Kill For and The Man With The Iron Fists, a role in live-action Mulan will more than solidify her already quickly growing status.
With roles spanning across different media, Arden Cho is a multi-talented performer to keep an eye out for. Currently plying her trade on Teen Wolf, she has also appeared in Crystal Dynamics's Tomb Raider reboot as Samantha Nishimura.
Mulan was one of my most favorite Disney animations when I was a kid, and I'm sure they'll do a live-action rendition justice. But I do hope they choose to give an Asian actress the chance to play a character of such high heroic standing.
(Sources: The Petition Site, IMDb)