Disney’s latest cast for Lilo & Stitch live-action remake draws colourism criticism online

By Alma Fabiani

Published Apr 17, 2023 at 12:39 PM

Reading time: 1 minute

On Thursday 13 April 2023, The Hollywood Reporter confirmed that Disney had found its live-action Nani, Lilo’s older sister, in Hawaiian actress Sydney Agudong for the upcoming Lilo & Stitch remake, set to come out in 2024.

In no time, the casting announcement sparked debate online over whitewashing and colourism in the entertainment industry. Despite the fact that Agudong, 22, was born and raised on the island of Kauai, Hawaii, Twitter users who belong to Indigenous communities felt as though she didn’t accurately reflect how the character looked in the original 2002 animation, with darker skin, black hair, and ethnic features.

https://www.tiktok.com/@theunstableunicorns/video/7221881186547748101

One critic of the casting explained: “Not being Indigenous or from a PoC community, it may not be easy to see a problem with this casting, but within our communities this is a big issue. Nani is Indigenous Hawaiian with strong features and dark skin, this casting is blatant colourism.”

Netizens also accused Disney of pandering to Eurocentric beauty standards and of a missed opportunity to showcase proper representation of dark-skinned Pacific Islanders. And it’s not the first time the entertainment conglomerate faces criticism over casting decisions for live-action remakes either.

Back in 2019, Disney was accused of whitewashing after it announced that Naomi Scott—a biracial British actor of Indian ancestry—would play Princess Jasmine in its live-action remake of Aladdin. The original character was the only Disney princess with darker skin at the time of the animated film’s release in 1992.

On the other hand, Disney also ended up in the firing line of disgruntled bigots for following the recent practice of colour-blind casting, meaning casting without considering an actor’s ethnicity or race, to some of its latest remakes.

Most recently, fans debated the casting choice for Ariel in the live-action The Little Mermaid. Speaking to The Face, actress Halle Bailey, who plays Ariel, spoke about her reaction to racist comments she had received after being cast: “As a Black person, you just expect it and it’s not really a shock anymore.”

In March, Disney revealed that newcomer Maia Kealoha will star as Lilo in the upcoming film. Billy Magnussen and Zach Galifianakis are also set to star in the live-action remake. Stitch, naturally, will be a computer graphics (CG) creation.

Keep On Reading

By Charlie Sawyer

Will the TikTok ban push Gen Z into the arms of Donald Trump?

By Abby Amoakuh

What does rizz mean? Learn why it’s Oxford’s Word of the Year for 2023

By Charlie Sawyer

Criminals targeting teenage boys online are now selling sextortion guides on social media

By Charlie Sawyer

Who is Pookie, the wife of Jeff Puckett, aka the most complimentary man on TikTok?

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Keke Palmer’s ex-boyfriend Darius Jackson files restraining order after disturbing video emerges

By Charlie Sawyer

Finance bro podcasts are cringe and problematic, so why are they taking over TikTok?

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

My interview with a professional cuddler who earns £75 per hour

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Who is Bianca Censori and why is her controversial family worried about Kanye West?

By Abby Amoakuh

Bride walks out on her own wedding after the groom smashed a cake in her face, and she’s not the first one!

By Abby Amoakuh

Trump to face trial in hush money case, as Fani Willis defends romantic relationship in Georgia case 

By Charlie Sawyer

Man shows off his father’s decapitated head in gruesome anti-Biden YouTube video

By Alma Fabiani

Cult leader accused of being behind 400 deaths including 191 children

By Charlie Sawyer

Mental health patients raped and sexually assaulted, new shocking NHS abuse scandal reveals

By Abby Amoakuh

Crunchy, silky, scrunchie and almond moms: What’s behind TikTok’s latest parenting craze?

By Alma Fabiani

What is a nepo baby, and why do they make everyone so mad?

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Raven-Symoné tells fans to stop sending death threats to her wife Miranda amid online hate

By Charlie Sawyer

Kylie Minogue’s scent, stereotypes in the media, and fancying F1 drivers: My morning with GK Barry

By Charlie Sawyer

Would you rather be stuck in a forest with a man or a bear? Unpacking our viral TikTok video

By Charlie Sawyer

Republican lawmaker censured for saying mass shootings are god’s punishment for abortion rights

By Alma Fabiani

Woman sues Lyft alleging driver repeatedly raped her and impregnated her