Disney just announced their casting for a live-action “Aladdin” movie. For the role of Princess Jasmine, the directors chose Naomi Scott, a young actress of British and Indian descent. Scott will play alongside Mena Massoud, an actor of Egyptian descent.
That decision has prompted a backlash from people who thought Disney should have cast an Arab actress in the role.
“Some critics of the decision see it as a suggestion by Disney that women of Indian and Middle Eastern heritage look the same,” writes Fortune.
People on twitter certainly weren’t shy about expressing their displeasure.
One woman tweeted, “i don't love the "brown ppl are interchangeable" idea that hollywood believes.”
Another woman tweeted, “People have a right to be upset about Naomi Scott being cast. They're upset that their representation was taken away, and rightly so.”
Yet another person objected, writing “All these Arab actresses on the planet and they cast half-white, half-Indian Naomi Scott as Jasmine. Indian isn't middle-eastern, Hollywood.”
But the controversy isn’t what I find most interesting about 24-year-old Naomi Scott. Not only is she known for playing the Pink Power Ranger, but she’s also a worship leader at U.K.’s Bridge Church where both of her parents are pastors.
In an interview with Hypebae, Scott, who is also a recording artist, shared her personal relationship with God.
“God is the ultimate creative force,” she said “Growing up in the Church fostered an inner spirituality that also introduced me to the concept of music having a deeper meaning. There has always been a connection between my faith, and realizing that music can have a soul and purpose, which has ultimately affected the way I approach the art.”
She also cites listening to gospel music and leading worship as directly “shaping my artistry.”
“Sonically I’ve translated core elements such as layering harmonies, and the spirit of orchestrating sounds to make you feel a certain way into my personal work,” she told Hyperbae.
Listen to the song she recorded, “Prayer-lude” for her latest EP.
Scott also told The Huffington Post that even though she loves acting, music is her first love.
“Just from growing up in gospel music and that. That spiritual connection to it was where my first love is and always interested.”
Scott also isn’t shy about supporting Christians in the middle east. In May, she tweeted,
“So many christians being targeted in Egypt and other areas. Praying for all my brothers and sisters around the world who face persecution.”
I look forward to hearing what else Scott will say about her Christian faith when she goes on the Aladdin press tour, and I look forward to hearing more music from this talented young woman.