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Disney found someone to play Mulan, and she's not white

A Chinese star will play the titular role, resisting Hollywood’s trend of whitewashing Asian characters.


In its live-action adaptation of Mulan, Disney has picked a Chinese actress to play the leading character.

Screenshot by Zoey Chong/CNET

"Mulan" fans are giving Disney a thumbs-up for a casting decision made known this week.

The studio is engaging Chinese actor Liu Yifei (or Crystal Liu) as the female lead in its live-action adaptation of the classic Chinese tale, which is slated for 2019, it said on Wednesday. The decision was made following a year-long casting process to fulfil the company's promise that Mulan will be played by a Chinese actor.

The decision has been welcomed by fans of the Chinese story of a young woman who disguises herself as a man to replace her father in the military and save him from death. Many fans had feared the movie would follow the trend set by Ghost in the Shell and Death Note -- both of which were lambasted for whitewashing the cast, or casting white celebrities in roles that were created for Asians.

Liu is one of the most popular actors in China, where she's also called the "Fairy Sister" because of of her "pure and innocent" image, according to The Hollywood Reporter. "Mulan" won't be her first English-language film. She starred in "Outcast" in 2014, alongside Nicolas Cage and Hayden Christensen.

CNET has reached out to Disney for a comment.

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