Disney Is Being Slammed For “Browning Up” White Extras In The New ‘Aladdin’ Film


Disney has been criticised for using makeup to darken the skin tone of numerous white extras and crew members on the upcoming live-action Aladdin film.

According to a story in UK paper The Sunday Times, Disney resorted to “browning up” white people in crowd scenes and in roles requiring speciality skills like stunt work, dancing and camel handling.

The company has admitted to using make up to help crew “blend in”, although it says it only occurred “in a handful of instances when it was a matter of speciality skills, safety and control (special effects rigs, stunt performers and handling of animals).”

The film features “the most diverse cast ever assembled for a Disney live action production,” the company said. “More than 400 of the 500 background performers were Indian, Middle Eastern, African, Mediterranean and Asian.”

The Sunday Times quotes Kaushal Odedra, described as “a stand-in for a lead actor”, who says he saw a line of 20 “very fair-skinned” actors outside of makeup tents “waiting to have their skin darkened”.

“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 said.

Odedra said he asked a Saudi cast member what he thought of the situation. “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.”

“Also, if I’d wanted to discuss it, speaking to the almost entirely white crew seemed somewhat intimidating,” Odedra added.

A remake of the iconic animated film, Aladdin is directed by Guy Ritchie and stars Will Smith as the Genie, Egyptian-born Canadian Mena Massoud as Aladdin and British-Indian Naomi Scott as Jasmine. It is set to be released in May 2019.