Disney cast Chinese actress Liu Yifei in lead ‘Mulan’ role

The live-action remake is set for a 2019 release

Disney have revealed the star of their new live-action Mulan remake – Chinese actress Liu Yifei.

The casting comes after months of scrutiny of Hollywood’s ‘whitewashing’ problem – where white actors are hired to play Asian roles. The Hollywood remake of hit anime Ghost In The Shell recently received criticism for casting Scarlett Johannson in its main role, while Chinese epic The Great Wall casted Matt Damon as its main character. Actor Ed Skrein recently left the upcoming Hellboy reboot following similar criticism.

The casting of Liu Yifei in Mulan has been hailed as a victory for those seeking to hold Hollywood accountable for its ‘whitewashing’, with an online petition calling for an Asian actress to be cast in the role of Mulan garnering over 100,000 signatures. The petition was shut down on Thursday (November 30), with its owners claiming success.

Many have commended Disney’s decision to cast a Chinese actress in the role, including former Mulan voiceover actress Ming-Na Wen, who voiced the character in Disney’s previous 1998 version.

30-year-old Liu Yifei is said to be fluent in English, having grown up partly in New York, and was reported picked out of 1,000 candidates for the role, according to The Hollywood ReporterShe is nicknamed ‘Fairy Sister’ for her delicate looks and history of roles in fantasy dramas.

Back in March, it was revealed that Disney’s Mulan remake would not be a musical like its animated predecessor.

Director Niki Caro confirmed that there are “no songs right now, much to horror of my children,” in an interview with Moviefone. “It’s a big, girly martial arts epic. It will be extremely muscular and thrilling and entertaining and moving,” she added.

Sean Bailey, Disney’s President of Motion Picture Production, later confirmed the change in direction. “Mulan is clearly an empowered-female story but we can also do something new in this reimagining, make it a little more muscular, stronger, with touch of Ridley Scott,” he told Vulture.

The move follows Disney’s decision to drop the musical numbers from last year’s Jungle Book remake, only incorporating ‘The Bare Necessities’ into the film, with other famous songs relegated to the film’s end credits. However, Disney’s recently released Beauty and the Beast remake features many of its original songs.