By Arfa Shahid
Egyptian-Canadian actor Mena Massoud has been cast in the leading role for Disney’s live-action remake of Aladdin, a feat many view as progress in Hollywood with regards to casting actors of color.
It was in that moment, as he looked into her eyes, that he saw a soul so beautfully captivating that he could not but help remember the vastness of the galaxies above. The stars that shined as bright as her two illuminating eyes. Find your inspiration. Use it to drive your passion. Go out and get it. #passion #drive #focus #poetry
Massoud will star along side British actress Naomi Scott, who will play Princess Jasmine. Will Smith will also star in the live-action remake as the Genie.
The remake of the super-hit 1992 animated movie is being directed by Guy Ritchie, who along with Disney insisted on casting actors of South Asian/Middle Eastern descent since the original movie is set in a fictional city in the Middle East.
British actors Riz Ahmed and Dev Patel were reportedly considered to play Aladdin, but Disney decided it wanted a lesser known actor for the role.
Massoud was born to Coptic Egyptian parents and raised in Canada, while Scott’s mother is of Indian descent, and her father is British.
First photo by the amazing #MichelleLindo. Had a blast! Tie + bar @thetiebar Pocket Sq. @bafficollection #MensFashion #photoshoot #suit A post shared by Mena Massoud (@menamassey) on
Finding Massoud was not easy. Disney’s struggle to find actors to play Aladdin’s role were widely reported. In fact, the hashtag #AladdinCasting went viral on Twitter with users expressing their disappointment and outrage at Disney being unable to choose from a plethora of suitable actors of color.
— Katie-Mai Kong (@katiemaikong) July 12, 2017
— Iman (@ImanAkhtar) July 16, 2017
While speculation over who will play Aladdin may have finally ended, many are still concerned over the Middle Eastern stereotypes and negative cultural tropes that were used in the original movie.