"There’s no way that Asian extras could not have been hired to meet the needs of the film."
Disney’s live-action remake of Aladdin has come under fire for ‘darkening’ white actors for filming.
Currently, the movie is filmed in Longcross, located close to London. A city which is home to a population of over 1 million from South Asian and Arab backgrounds.
However, bosses of the major film corporation have admitted ‘darkening’ white actors for crowd scenes.
They claim they had to bring them to fill background roles. They also suggested these positions required skills not readily found in Asian and Arab communities.
These reportedly include stuntmen, dancers and camel handlers.
An actor who took part in the filming has spoken more on the controversial practice. Kaushal Odedra, an extra, attended the shoot back in September 2017.
He told The Sunday Times how he saw a line of 20 “very fair-skinned people”, waiting to have their skin ‘darkened’ and said:
“Disney are sending out a message that your skin colour, your identity, your life experiences amount to nothing that can’t be powdered on and washed off.”
He also added to the publication:
“I asked a Saudi cast member what he made of having these extras being tanned so heavily and he said it’s unfortunate, but this is how the industry works, and there’s no point complaining about it since it isn’t going to change.”
However, Disney explained that the remake of Aladdin has the most diversely cast production in its history. They said: “More than 400 of the 500 background performers were Indian, Middle Eastern, African, Mediterranean and Asian.”
Despite their comments, their admittance of ‘darkening’ white actors has led to a backlash. Riaz Meer, a BAFTA-nominated TV director deemed the practice as “an insult to the whole industry” and said:
“The talent exists and is accessible and there’s no way that Asian extras could not have been hired to meet the needs of the film.
“Failing to hire on-screen talent of the right ethnic identity to meet the clear needs of this production is just plain wrong. We expect better from all film makers.”
This isn’t the first controversy Aladdin has faced. Back in July 2017, Disney announced Mena Massoud will play the role of Aladdin, while British Indian actress Naomi Scott will star as Princess Jasmine.
Some expressed their disappointment in Naomi’s casting, saying they hoped for an actress of Arab descent to land the role.
Meanwhile, Will Smith will star as the Genie and Marwan Kenzari as Jafar. The film is scheduled to release in May 2019.