It’s a very exciting time for Disney fans! After announcing a release date for the live-action adaptation of Mulan earlier this year, the studio has finally found its leading lady. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Chinese actress Liu Yifei (who is also known as Crystal Liu) will play the title character in the 2018 film. The 30-year-old, who previously starred in 2008’s The Forbidden Kingdom alongside Jackie Chan and Jet Li and 2014’s Outcast with Nicolas Cage and Hayden Christensen, beat out more than 1,000 actresses for the role. While the rest of the stars have yet to be revealed, it seems like Disney is taking a step toward a more inclusive cast, after fans signed a petition earlier this year to make sure that the beloved heroine, Mulan, wouldn’t be “whitewashed.”
The casting process reportedly involved a year-long worldwide search, during which almost 1000 actresses auditioned for the role of Hua Mulan, who posed as a man in order to take her father’s place in the army in fifth-century China. Per THR, casting an ethnically Chinese actress was a high priority for the studio. Liu is one of the most popular actresses in China, having appeared in several hit television dramas there. She’s also acted in English-speaking roles.
Disney is eyeing a possible 2019 release date for Mulan.