Chinese actress and singer Liu Yifei has landed the coveted role of Mulan in Disney’s live-action adaptation of the 1998 animated film.
The Forbidden Kingdom star has reportedly signed on to front director Niki Caro’s ambitious new project, and will play the gender-bending title character, who impersonates a man to honor her warrior father and fight against a Hun invasion.
Yifei’s casting comes months after Ming-Na Wen, the original voice of Mulan, urged Disney filmmakers to recruit a Chinese actress to portray the heroine in the live-action remake.
The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. star told Entertainment Tonight the new Mulan must be “Chinese in her heritage”, adding, “Even though we’re Pan-Asian, it is specifically a Chinese folklore and I really think that someone with that ethnic background (would) really just add more to the story.”
Ming-Na was among the Asian celebrities who attacked the casting of Scarlett Johansson in Ghost in the Shell, insisting an Asian actress should have been offered the role.
“(I have) nothing against Scarlett Johansson,” she tweeted. “In fact, I’m a big fan. But everything against this Whitewashing of Asian role.”
Scarlett’s casting as the lead in the Japanese anime tale hit headlines when critics suggested her character was made to look more Asian. At a panel discussion about the controversy, Ming-Na said, “We’re easy targets. It’s not in our nature to speak up and voice our concerns.That needs to change. We need to emulate the African–American community, whether through fear, (or) being loud.”