Disney’s original “Mulan” star, Ming-Na Wen, has a single request for the new live-action remake: she wants her successor to be a Chinese actress.
Wen talked to Entertainment Tonight about Disney’s rebooted version of “Mulan” and plainly said that she wanted to the movie’s heroine to share in the culture of the story. She couldn’t name a specific actress, but really hoped whoever took over was “Chinese in her heritage.”
“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,” Wen told Entertainment Tonight.
Even though Wen, who is Chinese-American, would love to be a part of the remake, she won’t be reprising her role as the warrior teenager. The 53-year-old actress joked that maybe she’d do it, “if it was ‘Mulan: The Later Years.”
Hollywood has gotten a lot of heat from the Asian-American community for its lack of diversity, especially when it comes to stories that have Asian origins.
Matt Damon’s “The Great Wall” tanked at the box office, reportedly losing the studio $75 million, largely due to the accusations of white-washing. The movie “Ghost in the Shell” featuring Scarlett Johansson experienced similar backlash for casting a white actress in a Japanese story. Wen actually denounced Johansson’s casting on Twitter last year.
“Nothing against Scarlett Johansson. In fact, I’m a big fan. But everything against this Whitewashing of [an] Asian role,” Wen tweeted.
Disney has promised that the live-action remake of “Mulan” will feature Asian actors who speak both English and Mandarin Chinese. This is one of the many steps the company has made to be more diverse in its casting and stories. “Moana” featured the voice of Hawaiian teenager Auli’i Cravalho, staying true to the movie’s Polynesian roots.