Disney claims they used white actors in the forthcoming Guy Ritchie film when it was necessary.
According to new reports, Disney revealed that they darkened white actors skin for use in background scenes in the live-action adaptation of their classic animated fare Aladdin. Speaking with BBC's Newsbeat, the company revealed that white actors were used only in a "handful of instances when it was a matter of specialty skills, safety and control."
Disney claims that "great care was taken to put together one of the largest, most diverse casts ever seen on screen," further expressing how "diversity of our cast and background performers was a requirement and only in a handful of instances when it was a matter of specialty skills, safety and control (special effects rigs, stunt performers and handling of animals) were crew made up to blend in."
However, Kaushal Odedra, an extra on the set of the film, also told Newsbeat how he saw about 20 actors being made to look Arabian, and calls Disney "out of 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 professionals have called out Disney's lack of diversity, and for not hiring enough talent of 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 of us are qualified, that's bs, someone just didn't want to spend the $ to do it right."