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Aladdin’s Mena Massoud on diversity in entertainment

Mena Massoud, the star of Disney’s Aladdin live-action remake wants diversity to go beyond discussion in television and film industry. The Egyptian-Candian actor spoke about the importance of diversifying stories for the big and small screen at El Gouna Film Festival in Egypt.

“As artists, we have an extraordinary and rare privilege to tell the stories of our people, our land, our culture. They grip us, tear us apart, and put us back together. We are our stories,” he tells Variety. The actor also lamented that the lack of representation wasn’t exactly inspiring for an aspiring young talent like him saying:

“When I was growing up [in Canada] I never really saw people that looked like me on the big screen, and that made me feel like I didn’t belong there, and there wasn’t room for my story.”

Moussad continued: “When we represent all cultures with sensitivity and truth, we foster a society that supports all people. When we uplift artists who reflect diverse perspectives their stories not only tell us how people view others, but how they view themselves.”

The past few years have marked milestones for diversity in film and television. Hollywood has a long way to go before it can finally call itself a beacon of representation. But recent shifts toward diversifying shows and movies leave everyone hopeful. Notable films that helped pave the way to this include 2018’s Black Panther and Crazy Rich Asians. Television has been catching up as well. With shows like Fresh Off the Boat, Black-ish and One Day at a Time representing the Asian-American, African-American and Latin-American communities respectively.