Disney is set to make a live-action remake of ‘Lilo & Stitch.’ Sydney Elizabeth Agudong, a 22-year-old actress with Hawaiian ancestry, has been cast as Nani, Lilo’s older sister. But there are debates and online criticism of the company over how the actress doesn’t reflect the character’s visuals in the original animation.
People accused Disney of “blatant colorism” after revealing the actress’ casting. Some fans have voiced out how she is not representative of how Nani was shown and designed in the 2002 animation, where the character had darker skin, black hair, and ethnic features, more akin to a local.
A critic tweeted: “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 an Indigenous Hawaiian with strong features and dark skin, this casting is blatant colorism.”
And another fan from the state who was dissatisfied with the casting wrote, “Listen, she’s probably a lovely woman but I can’t help but feel disappointed. I wanted Nani to look like me.”
Read some of the reactions from the online users:
this nani casting for lilo and stitch just ruined my day pic.twitter.com/BQ0EzDoC10
— 🏽🖤 (@wateryonce) April 14, 2023
The conflict occurring in Lilo and Stitch being about the colonialist state attempting to pull this tiny “broken” native Hawaiian family apart is made more apparent by their both being darker skinned girls
Casting a lighter skinned Hawaiian to play Nani interferes with that pic.twitter.com/kuSoYuDqn3
— Faati (@FaatiTheStreet) April 14, 2023
Disney casting Nani in the lilo and stitch live action https://t.co/DmRw20YYFs
— Mr Barbie (@atra_billis) April 14, 2023
Colorism really fucked over Nani's casting for the live action Lilo and Stitch. Yes the actress is a native Hawaiian, but she is also light skinned and white passing while Nani is not and never had been. She deserves better pic.twitter.com/HwIFQnK8lu
— crue (@ello_bitty) April 14, 2023
i don’t understand how they casted a perfect lilo and then went and completely fucked up nani’s casting like that pic.twitter.com/UbS7lguiao
— jolt (@meltborne) April 14, 2023
The colorism in Nani’s casting is an A+ example of the reasoning behind ppl calling me the N word whenever I speak on Hawaiian issues. Proximity to ytness is so easily digested.
Dark-skinned Hawaiians exist & mainstream representation would be so beneficial to all of us.
— onimasai 🤍 (@lmnhzd) April 14, 2023
You are as dense as a crack rock to compare the Nani casting as similar to the Ariel casting. & no I won’t be explaining.
— Get Her, Jade! (@keatingssixth) April 14, 2023
The same thing occurred when they announced that Kahiau Machado would play ‘David,’ Nani’s love interest in the show, stating that the actor doesn’t look like a local and is more visually similar to a Caucasian man.
Disney has a history of facing criticism for its casting choices in past live-action remakes. One of which was casting Naomi Scott, a biracial British actor of Indian ancestry, as Princess Jasmine in their ‘Aladdin’ remake, despite the character’s design having darker skin in the original movie.
Disney has not made any comments on the criticisms of the casting.
Other POP! stories that you might like: