As a passionate performer and Disney loving-child, I often performed the musical soliloquies of the animated princesses from the comfort of my living room under the loving yet judgmental watch of my parents.

While I had no concept of race or identity as a six year old, I always had a special place in my heart for Mulan and her song “Reflections.”

As I grew up, I came to cherish Mulan, Jasmine and Pocahontas because they were the princesses that looked the most like me. I didn’t know how to relate to blonde, blue-eyed Cinderella. It was greatly unnerving to me when I discovered that these princesses of color were actually voiced by white women.

There was a sense of betrayal that I dealt with trying to reconcile connecting to this character and being unable to connect to her original voice.

I have been dealing with a similar struggle with Disney’s newest live-action remake of “Mulan.” They have thankfully have an amazing Asian American cast including but not limited to Yifei Liu, Donnie Yen, Li Gong and Jet Li. However, the production team is shockingly white.

A tweet recently went viral of the white costume designer discussing her research for the films. Her first step was to “go to the museums in Europe that had a Chinese department” before spending only three weeks in China to “soak up as much Chinese culture” as she could.

For a company that is worth over $130 billion dollars and basically rules the entertainment industry, it is unnerving that this kind of research was deemed fit for accurately representing Chinese costumes of the era.

Just like finding out the true voice behind the animated princesses, the lack of representation behind the camera for the live-action remake disappoints me.

If the aim of the new film was made to pay authentic homage to the original Chinese poem, I don’t understand why more Chinese artists weren’t invited to be a part of the production team. Here is a list of recent projects that employed Asian people on all sides of the camera.

I am truly excited to see a globally respected story like Mulan being treated with the respect and authenticity it deserves.

I just wish that respect was extended behind the camera to continue making space for Asian directors, producers, costume designers, writers, editors and more to tell stories that they don’t have to research. They live these stories in their own cultures.



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Emma Federer

Emma Federer is a wacky screenwriter that uses her voice to celebrate of all things Asian: from C-pop to female stand-ups to the heart-warming experiences of queer Asian Americans.