The film and TV industry is racist. This isn’t up for debate, it is a fact. We’ve seen evidence of this time and time again. The latest incident in a long line of incidents happened when it was revealed that a producer thought it would be a good idea for Julia Roberts to play Harriet Tubman. Yes, that actually happened. Most recently, Aladdin star Mena Massoud spoke out about not being able to land auditions after the film made over $1 billion worldwide.
Now, no matter your personal feelings about the live-action adaptation of Disney’s animated classic (our very own Roxana Hadadi criticized the film for upholding Orientalism), Mena Massoud was charming and did well in the titular role. So, why isn’t Hollywood rushing to cast him in movies? *insert YOU KNOW WHY gif*
In an interview with The Daily Beast, Massoud spoke candidly about the challenges he’s faced after the release of Aladdin. “The big truth is I haven’t really seen a big anything from it,” he said.
The article never actually points out that Massoud couldn’t land auditions because Hollywood is racist, but that is most definitely the reason. The guy was picked from over 2,000 actors to play Aladdin and we’ve all seen his smile and his acting ability (he’s also a very handsome guy, c’mon!). However, instead of becoming the next big thing (as is usually the case after these blockbusters), Massoud — who is in no way complaining, only stating the truth — is back to square one.
“I’m kind of tired of staying quiet about it. I want people to know that it’s not always dandelions and roses when you’re doing something like Aladdin. ‘He must have made millions. He must be getting all these offers.’ It’s none of those things. I haven’t had a single audition since Aladdin came out.”
In admitting that the success of Aladdin did absolutely nothing to boost his career, Massoud calls attention to the fact that Hollywood still has a problem casting people of color in major roles. And, since it’s not like there are a bunch of Arab-American/Middle Eastern roles available for Massoud, who is Egyptian-Canadian, it just proves how reticent the industry is to cast him and other POC in roles they’ve designated to white actors. Remember when Hollywood tried to make Scott Eastwood happen? Or how, despite quite a few flops before Aladdin, Guy Ritchie continues to land big projects? How long before actors of color get cast in big roles? Frankly, I’m tired of waiting.
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