Disney backlash after Aladdin spin-off about minor white character is announced

Prince Anders was previously known as Prince Achmed in original animated Aladdin

Adam White@__adamwhite
Saturday 07 December 2019 12:33
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Will Smith responds to Aladdin co-star Mena Massoud claims that he's been shunned by Hollywood

Disney is under fire after announcing a spin-off movie for a minor white character introduced in their live-action Aladdin reboot.

Billy Magnussen’s Prince Anders, a ditzy potential suitor for Princess Jasmine, will serve as the star of his own spin-off project for the streaming platform Disney+.

Fans have since highlighted the fact that the project was announced in the same week that Mena Massoud, the Canadian actor who portrayed Aladdin, revealed he has struggled to find auditions for follow-up roles in the wake of the film’s release.

“So... uh... just after the news the actor who played Aladdin can’t get work, Disney announces a spin-off about the token white guy in one scene!” read one tweet.

The Prince Anders character had already proved controversial, with Disney accused of “whitewashing” the role for the live-action reboot. In 1992’s original animated Aladdin, the same character was known as Prince Achmed. Prince Anders is similarly the only character not portrayed by an actor of colour in the reboot.

Massoud, who beat out more than 2,000 actors to win the part of Aladdin, said this week that he hadn’t had “a single audition since Aladdin came out,” adding: “Can I at least get an audition? Like I’m not expecting you to be like, ‘Here’s Batman’. But can I just get in the room? … Can you just give me a chance?”

Will Smith, who played the Genie in the film, subsequently told reporters that Massoud’s struggles reflected an industry that is “hard by design”.

“It’s like the universe, God, whatever you believe, designed it to be hard, right?” he said. “So, if you’re having a hard time, it’s because you’re supposed to.”

Disney’s Prince Anders spin-off will be scripted by Jordan Dunn and Michael Kvamme, and stream on Disney+.

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