Disney recently announced that they have found their leading actress for the highly-anticipated live-action Mulan. Her name is Liu Yifei (also known as Crystal Liu), and she’s a 30-year old Chinese actress. Casting directors for the production supposedly spent about a year visiting several continents in order to find the perfect Mulan out of the thousands of actresses they saw.
Directed by Niki Caro (known for her directing of films such as Whale Rider and The Zookeepers Wife), the live-action adaptation is based off of the classic Chinese legend and the 1998 animated film, and any fan of that movie will agree that an actress of a live-action version would need to have martial-arts skills, be a young Chinese woman (who has the ability to speak English) and just be talented overall. After their long search, Disney found these qualities in Chinese actress Liu.
Some may recognize Liu from her English-speaking roles in both The Forbidden Kingdom (2008), in which she stared alongside Jackie Chan and Jet Li, and Outcast (2014), in which she appeared opposite Nicolas Cage and Hayden Christensen. Liu has also appeared in many other popular Chinese productions and has been recognized and awarded a few times for her work.
Her Chinese fans have given her the nickname “Fairy Sister” for her pure and delicate image that they’ve come to know through her acting and modeling career. While these fans are most definitely excited for what this role means for the actress, other Chinese moviegoers who know her well are hesitant of her acting ability in such a large role. Most everyone, though, is just happy that the role hasn’t been whitewashed, as many leading roles have been in the past.
No official release date has been announced for the live-action film, but it is believed that more casting and production announcements will be made in the upcoming weeks.