According to new reports, Disney revealed that they darkened white actors skin for use in background scenes in the live-action adaptation their classic animated fare Aladdin. Speaking with BBC's Newsbeat, the company revealed that white actors were used only in a "handful instances when it was a matter specialty skills, safety and control."
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Disney claims that "great care was taken to put together one the largest, most diverse casts ever seen on screen," further expressing how "diversity our cast and background performers was a requirement and only in a handful instances when it was a matter specialty skills, safety and control (special effects rigs, stunt performers and handling animals) were crew made up to blend in."
However, Kaushal Odedra, an extra on the set the film, also told Newsbeat how he saw about 20 actors being made to look Arabian, and calls Disney "out touch" by trying to incorporate extras who lack a true Asian identity. Furthermore, Odedra expresses disappointment in Disney, revealing that "Aladdin was the perfect time to show diversity but also be accurate."
Industry pressionals have called out Disney's lack diversity, and for not hiring enough talent Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Arabic or Indian heritage. One vocal detractor is Harold & Kumar star Kal Penn, who took to Twitter to criticize Disney's reasoning for hiring white actors. Penn writes "when a PR person says they decided to put 100 people in Brownface in 2018 because not enough us are qualified, that's bs, someone just didn't want to spend the $ to do it right."
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