Mulan is the latest Disney film to get the live-action treatment, but there was just one problem: They needed a lead actress. After a worldwide search, Disney has finally cast its star: Chinese actress Liu Yifei, also known as Crystal Liu.
The Hollywood Reporter, who was the first to announce the news, reports that a team of casting directors searched five continents and tested 1,000 candidates for the role. Liu will be showing off both her martial arts skills and English-speaking ability in the part of Hua Mulan.
Liu was born in China but spent some of her childhood in Queens, N.Y. She’s appeared in films like The Forbidden Kingdom, Outcast, Once Upon a Time, and The Assassins.
Disney chose an ethnically Chinese woman to play the part, something that the animated Mulan’s original voice actress Ming-Na Wen had publicly voiced support for prior to the casting news. “Even though we’re Pan-Asian, it is specifically a Chinese folklore and I really think that someone with that ethnic background [would] really just add more to the story,” she said.
In fall 2016, Disney told Variety that not only the lead character but all primarily roles in the story, including Mulan’s love interest, will be Chinese.
We can’t wait to see what Liu does with the role.