Disney has found its 'Mulan' in Liu Yifei

Kelvin Reese
December 1, 2017

Disney announced the news yesterday on their blog and the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, Sina Weibo.

After a year-long search, Disney has finally found an actress to play the leading role in its upcoming live-action adaptation of the classic tale, Mulan.

It took a year of searching and almost 1,000 candidates, but the Walt Disney Studios has finally found its Mulan. The actress, who has been nicknamed "Fairy Sister" by the Chinese, spent part of her childhood in NY and has acted in English-language films, including 2008's The Forbidden Kingdom, opposite Jackie Chan and Jet Li. In deference to cultural accuracy, the studio focused on locating an ethnically Chinese young woman to play Hua Mulan, who disguised herself as a man to take her father's army conscription in fifth-century China. The 1998 film was so well-received by critics and the public, earning USD304 million (RM1.24 billion) worldwide as well as Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations.

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Disney announced a year ago that the Mulan reboot would feature an all-Asian cast after fans started a petition to make sure the film is not whitewashed by Hollywood again. Recent films accused of whitewashing include Japanese anime "Ghost in the Shell" - the main role of which was played by Scarlett Johansson.

It's reported a team of casting directors visited five continents and spoke to almost 1,000 candidates for the role which required credible martial arts skills and the ability to speak English. She's fluent in English and even lived in Queens, New York City, as a kid, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Yufei starred in a number of television dramas throughout the '00s and turned up opposite Jackie Chan in 2008's The Forbidden Kingdom when she was a child actor. "Mulan" is helmed by Niki Caro and is slated to release in 2019.

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