I wanted to mention something about the current international talent search for the Walt Disney Studios live-action feature film “Aladdin”. I have been hearing from a large number of people who are not of Middle Eastern heritage (or even look close to being able to portray a Middle Eastern heritage character) who have submitted. Also many who have submitted without the required video of themselves singing. Now we all know about the massive backlash that studios get when they do not cast actors of a certain heritage for specific roles. Most often they call it “Whitewashing”. Disney has only specified, “These characters are Middle Eastern” in the official talent search details. But be realistic about your ethnicity.
Also, producer Dan Lin stated, “Look at me. I mean I’m not a typical guy. Listen, I’m very fortunate working in Hollywood; I am diverse. So when I came in to make the movie (Aladdin), I wanted to make a diverse version of the movie. Luckily for me Guy Ritchie has the same vision and Disney has the same vision, so we’re not here to make “Prince of Persia”. We want to make a movie that’s authentic to that world. We’re gonna be discovering new people because it’s a real challenge, because not only does an actor have to act, but they really have to have singing chops.”
Have strong singing ability, at least have a look that can portray a Middle Eastern person realistically.
This talent search is in line with when Disney conducted an international talent search for a talent who is of Pacific Islander ethnic background for the lead role in “Moana”. They ended up casting the amazing Auli’i Cravalho, who is of Chinese, Irish, Native Hawaiian, Portuguese, and Puerto Rican descent. And that was an animated feature film. “Aladdin” is a LIVE-ACTION film, so expect the actors chosen to be of Middle Eastern ethnic background.
Note: Here is the type of singing audition that you should submit (from actor Prash Boddeti):
I have spent many moons serving on Diversity Committees at the Screen Actors Guild, and this talent search is a result of great work by the entertainment industry to give amazing opportunities to actors from minority groups. Casting talent with ethnic background that is aligned with the ethnic background of the characters in iconic stories is very important these days. Even is it presents huge challenges to the casting process. Often times, the industry is also looking at talent that includes not only ethnic groups, but also people with physical challenges, LGBT, you name it. Depending on what is being cast. This is a good trend!