Disney has casted Liu Yifei in the role of Mulan in the live-action remake of the beloved Disney classic, which will be directed by Niki Caro. The choice of Yifei, who also goes by Crystal Liu, comes after a year-long search and significant petitioning for the media company to not whitewash the character.
Whitewashing is the insensitive practice of casting white actors in roles of non-white characters. It has happened as recently as this year with Scarlett Johansson being cast as Major Motoko Kusanagi in a film adaptation of popular Japanese manga series Ghost in the Shell.
To preempt any poorly considered casting choice, over 90,000 people signed an online petition to “Tell Disney You Don’t Want A Whitewashed Mulan!” Whether Disney ever intended to cast a non-Asian character is not clear, but the company promised that all main characters would be Chinese.
The legend of Mulan is deeply ingrained in Chinese culture and folklore and started long before Disney—being first transcribed in the 1600s.