The long search for the badass woman warrior Mulan has ended, as Disney announced this afternoon that it has casted Chinese actress, singer, and model Liu Yifei, also known as Crystal Liu, to be its lead in the upcoming live action film. According to Variety, “the studio was determined [to find an] actress [who] was young and of Chinese decent.” Disney auditioned thousands of individuals for this role and even visited several continents in the past year.
Liu Yifei will play Hua Mulan–the name is a minor change from the original Fa Mulan–a woman who disguises herself as a man to take the place of her father in the Chinese army to fight against the Huns during the fifth century.
Disney found the perfect star in Liu, as the popular actress of this generation in China has stellar martial arts skills and is fluent in English. Liu got her big break from starring in several TV series in the mid-2000s. She also starred in English-language films such as “The Forbidden Kingdom” (2008) alongside Jackie Chan and Jet Li, “Outcast” (2014) alongside Nicolas Cage and Hayden Christensen, and “The Chinese Widow” (2017) opposite Emile Hirsch.
Liu is also known for her music in J-pop and mandarin-pop. She has been an avid brand ambassador for brands such as Dior, Garnier, and Pantene. She has won five awards from the 6th China Golden Eagle TV Art Festival, the 22nd Hong Kong Society of Cinematographers Awards, the 5th Macau International Movie Festival, the 16th Chinese Film Media Awards, and 13th Guangzhou College Student Film Festival.
Niki Caro is directing, and Chris Bender, Jason Reed, and Jake Weiner are producing the film, which is eyeing a 2019 release.