Just because Mena Massoud played one of the most well-known Disney characters of all time doesn’t mean that he’s been mopping up when it comes to show business following that one part. In fact, as Ashley Connell of ScreenRant has relayed, he hasn’t managed to land a single audition since. That does sound a little surprising since the movie did so well and is now considered to be the fourth all-time best live action movie that Disney has released, but it’s also indication that just because you star in a big movie doesn’t mean that it’s going to be your big break. There’s been a certain amount of success with some movies when it comes to using relative unknowns for big parts but Mena’s reputation after the movie doesn’t seem to be climbing at the moment. The fact that he beat out 2,000 other men for this role is impressive and does warrant a good deal of attention, but unfortunately that seems to be the limit of his acting prowess at this time. While some might believe that as a person of color he’s having serious difficulties finding another role that rumor kind of needs to be put to rest considering how many other people of color have been coming up big as of late and how many individuals have seen their careers begin to rise from big and small movies alike.
The idea of diversity in movies is great since the act of swapping races and even gender is problematic at times. People actually had a huge issue with Will Smith being cast as the Genie for a while until they came to accept it, but thankfully those cast for the other roles were individuals that at least looked the part. There have been plenty of movies throughout history that have been botched since white actors were tossed into roles that should have by all rights gone to people of color. But even in this day and age the swapping trend is beginning to become a bit troublesome. For Aladdin it was easy to understand that there needed to be a cast that looked as though they could belong in a Middle Eastern location, and it fit in a big way though of course some people still had an issue with many different aspects of the movie. When all was said and done though it still made over $1 billion worldwide so it’s evident that enough people liked what they saw. When asked to talk about it this is what Mena had to say:
“I’m kind of tired of staying quiet about it. I want people to know that it’s not always dandelions and roses when you’re doing something like Aladdin. ‘He must have made millions. He must be getting all these offers.’ It’s none of those things. I haven’t had a single audition since Aladdin came out.”
It does sound as though he might be a bit frustrated at how things are going and it’s fair to say that he’s kind of justified. It’s not as though he’s suffering the Oscar’s curse and it’s not fair to say that he didn’t put in a great effort in the movie. But then again, it’s also not a good idea to start spreading rumors that people of color are finding it difficult to find work because of whatever racist propaganda there might be in show business, largely because there’s so much evidence to debunk this. There could be numerous reasons why Mena isn’t getting more auditions but being a POC is one of the weakest arguments out there these days since the continual rise of those from different racial and ethnic backgrounds has been moving forward in a big way. There will of course be more more and more reports of the lack of diversity in Hollywood but thanks to so many different variables being thrown into the mix it’s hard to just which report that one reads is one hundred percent accurate and which one is showing a definite bias that’s gleaned from the person collecting the data. Mena isn’t lacking for auditions because of his skin tone, nor is he failing to get auditions because of where he’s from. In fact it’s not hard to NOT feel sorry for Mena since as Zack Sharf of IndieWire reveals he does have another appearance coming up in a Hulu series titled Reprisal, so it’s not as though he’s not working at all. At this point, simply listening to what he’s saying, it does feel as though his expectations were that he would be showered with auditions and offers for work once he became part of the Disney classic. Sorry Mena, things don’t work that way for everyone, even folks in Hollywood have to get up and make things happen from time to time. He might not be whining, but if continues to wait for things then he might not be winning either.