Disney is currently on the search for a Chinese actress to star
As Disney is currently on the search for a Chinese actress to star as Mulan in their upcoming live-action rendition of the classic animated film, we have compiled a list of Chinese actresses who we would love to see play the legendary female warrior.
Following a petition that called for Disney to cast Chinese actors in Mulan, which garnered nearly 100,000 signatures last month, Disney confirmed that the studio was launching a global casting search for a Chinese actress to take on the lead role.
The movie will be released in 3D and will be based on the classic musical animated hit of the same name, which was released in 1998. Mulan tells the tale of Chinese legend Hua Mulan, the daughter of an aged warrior who disguises herself as a man as she takes her father’s place in war. With the help of her trusted sidekick dragon, Mushu, Mulan develops into a skilled warrior.
To embrace the studio’s refreshing decision to not whitewash yet another film, we’ve collated a list of 13 Chinese actresses who we would love to see take on the role of the legendary female heroine. These actresses weren’t necessarily born in China, but do have Chinese ethnicity.
Ming Na Wen
The Chinese-American actress voiced Mulan in the original animated film in 1999. The 52-year-old might be considered too old to play the young heroine, but her impressive fighting skills in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. suggest that her energy and vigor are by no means exhausted.
However, as Mulan is supposed to be a young woman whose family is trying to marry off, it is highly unlikely that Disney will cast Wen. Nonetheless, her presence in the film, in any form, is a must.
The New Zealand-born Malaysian Chinese actress will be familiar to 90s kids who may remember her from the television series The Tribe. Australian audiences will also recognise her from Neighbors. Since, Ang has appeared in Hollywood films including Triple 9 alongside Chiwetel Ejiofor, Anthony Mackie, Kate Winslet and Woody Harrelson. Through her filmography, Ang has shown her adaptable capabilities as an actress through which she has played a variety of characters. She will undoubtedly fit effortlessly in Mulan’s shoes.
Having already made a name for herself in China as one of the most beautiful Chinese actresses, Liu already has a legion of fans in the east. Nicknamed “Fairy Sister” in the Chinese entertainment industry, the model, singer and actress would be perfect if Disney is looking to cast a big name from the east. Furthermore, Liu has had plenty of experience as an action star after her roles in The Four series, The Assassins and Outcast.
Best known for her role as Shado on The CW series Arrow, Jade is also a trained martial artist. Jade’s first role in a US film was in The Man with the Iron Fists, which was directed by Wu Tang Clan’s RZA. Jade also leant her voice to the Square Enix video game Sleeping Dogs.
Additionally, the 31-year-old is a fantastic singer who released her first album in 2012. Her compelling acting, martial art skills and singing talent makes her an ideal contender for Mulan.
Scottish-born Chinese Katie Leung is best known for playing Cho Chang in the Harry Potter franchise. Since, she has matured into a fine actress with incredible talent showcased by her role in the BBC’s One Child. Whilst she hasn’t shown off her capabilities as an action hero, she certainly has potential. Leung will also star in The Foreigner alongside kungfu master Jackie Chan and British icon Pierce Brosnan.
Originally from Hong Kong, Chan is known in the west for her role in Netflix’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny. Already earning the nickname the ‘next Michelle Yeoh’ and the ‘Female Bruce Lee’ for her professional Taekwon-Do and Kung Fu and acting skills combination, Chan is certainly more than qualified to play Mulan. Hong Kong audiences will certainly be proud to see a familiar face in Hollywood other than Jackie Chan.
43-year-old Li may be pushing the age boundary for Mulan, but her appearance wouldn’t reveal it. Having already appeared in Hollywood sci-fi films such as Transformers: Age of Extinction and Resident Evil: Retribution, the Chinese actress is more than familiar with working with western film producers. However, Li is currently filming for shark thriller Meg, in which she stars alongside Jason Statham, so she may be unavailable for the Mulan casting.
The British born Chinese model and actress currently stars as the robot Anita on Humans. Chan has previously appeared in Doctor Who and Secret Diary of a Call Girl. Chan was also seen in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruits and The Double and is set to feature in JK Rowling’s upcoming Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Anyone who has seen Humans will attest that Chan is a naturally talented actress. Being cast as Mulan will certainly be her big Hollywood break, which she undoubtedly deserves.
Krista Marie Yu
27-year-old Yu is currently starring alongside Ken Jeong in the very popular television show Dr.Ken. Whilst Yu might be playing a teenager in the show, her real age is actually closer to Mulan’s age than some of the other contenders. Many Chinese girls in their late twenties tend to be pressured into finding a husband, so at 27, Yu would certainly fulfill this custom. Whatsmore, Yu herself is a likable, pleasant and charming actress – qualities that Mulan exudes in buckets.
Bingbing Fan is well known in Asia for starring in 2003’s Cell Phone, which became the highest-grossing Chinese film of the year. Fan topped the ForbesChina Celebrity 100 list in 2013 and 2014 and still ranks in the top 10. She has won a number of awards from festivals such as the Golden Horse Film Festival and Awards, Eurasia International Film Festival, Tokyo International Film Festival and Beijing College Student Film Festival and Huading Awards. Fan is also not unfamiliar with foreign-language films, such as the French film Stretch, Korean film My Way and Hollywood blockbusters Iron Man 3, X-Men: Days of Future Past and Jackie Chan’s Skiptrace.
Fan is unquestionably qualified to play Mulan and would undoubtedly make an incredible one.
The Hong Kong born Canadian actress has won the hearts of many TVB fans through her work in Overachievers. Having also won Miss Hong Kong 2013 and Miss Chinese International 2014, Chan will certainly make for a beautiful Mulan. Despite her slightly mixed race look, Chan has clarified that both her parents are ethnically Chinese. The 25-year-old is yet to appear in western television, so Mulan might just be her big break.
Perhaps one of China’s most recognisable actresses in the west, Zhang has starred in extremely successful films such as Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Hero, House of Flying Daggers and Rush Hour 2. Her familiarity is not without merit either – Zhang has proven herself to be a compelling actress and more than competent martial artist. Zhang has not starred in a western film for while but her return would warmly welcomed.
Wu’s role as Jessica Huang in ABC’s Fresh Off The Boat has propelled Wu to the forefront of Asian American representation. Publicly denouncing Zhang Yimou’s The Great Wall for whitewashing, Wu was most likely a signatory of the petition to ensure Disney cast Chinese actors in Mulan. It would be great to see an icon of representation portraying a symbol of representation on screen.