In the last few years, Disney has found great success adapting many of their animated classics for live-action. Cinderella, The Jungle Book and Beauty and the Beast have all been huge smash hits and proven fans can respond to these tales with live actors as well as animated cels. Their future lineup looks to continue that with The Lion King and a prequel of Cruella DeVill. A big one is Aladdin, adapting the 1992 smash that remains one of the company’s most beloved movies. Will Smith will step into the role of the Genie but Disney got into some hot water hinting that there may not be enough actors or actresses from the Middle East to play Aladdin and Jasmine.
Finally, the choice has been made for Jasmine: Naomi Scott, the British actress best known for playing Kimberly in the recent reboot of Power Rangers. While her mother has Indian blood, Scott is mostly white and British and thus many are upset Disney couldn’t find an actress who looked more the part. The fact is, there are slews of ladies from that region of the world who could take it on as India is well known for its film industry and alluring actresses. There are even those not of Middle Eastern descent but still having the right exotic looks for the role and could have made it far more striking. Some are known in the U.S., others are not but here are 15 actresses who could have been cast as Jasmine and shows that Disney could have looked a bit further out for the role.
15. Summer Bishil
From the start, the aptly named Summer shone well. Her family had moved to America just after 9/11 and she had to put up with bad feelings and backlash due to her heritage but it drove her on. She had an early role in the short-lived Nickelodeon show Just For Kicks and then broke out big in the acclaimed indie Towelhead. She added to it with Crossing Over and playing Azula in The Last Airbender but the movie’s horrible reception meant she never got to return for a sequel. She starred in the short-lived ABC series Lucky 7 but has become majorly successful with the Syfy show The Magicians. Her turn as the wicked Margo shows some very sexy stuff, a bit of singing and fantastic talent. That can all combine for her part as Jasmine and would be striking to see someone who’s struggled to be accepted for her background standing out this princess.
14. Yasmine Aker
Born in Dubai to Iranian parents, Aker was raised in Canada and started acting in their large TV and movie industry. Her alluring looks and amazing persona pushed her up and she was soon taking off with various roles. She’s a former Miss London and Miss Canada, thus proving her fantastic beauty in spades. She’s also a recording star and that proves she can pull Jasmine’s songs off. She had a minor role in Divergent and appearing in Agent Carter, The 100 and The Night Shift. Her alluring look and gorgeous features make her really stand out and this could have been a star-making role. Her music shows an infusion of Middle Eastern influences to make it stand out more and she takes pride in her heritage. With her looks, smart, voice and style, Aker seemingly had Jasmine down pat, making it a bit of a waste Disney didn’t go to someone actually from that region of the world for the part.
13. Sofia Boutella
This Algerian-French actress is becoming a rising starlet in Hollywood with a variety of unique roles. An experienced dancer, Boutella has a lovely form matched by exotic features and used both well. Her big break-out was playing Gazelle, the killer with metallic legs in Kingsman the Secret Service and was a highlight of the movie. She then appeared buried under makeup as the alien warrior Jaylah in Star Trek Beyond with critics calling her the best part of the movie. This year, Boutella has risen up a bit more playing the title character in The Mummy and while that movie was a notable flop, Sofia herself was cited as a strong part. She also had a brief but very memorable turn in Atomic Blonde which included love scenes with Charlize Theron. With her smoky eyes and husky voice, she could have made a very alluring Jasmine and anyone who can play an assassin, an alien and an ancient queen can handle a princess.
12. Rosabell Laurenti Sellers
True, her breakout role is a tad more adult than Disney might like. But that doesn’t take away from how gorgeous and alluring this terrific actress is. This Italian-American starlet spent years working in Italy in a variety of TV shows and movies, showing a lovely charm and push. She got attention playing Rachel Weisz’s daughter in The Whistleblower and voicing the main character in the successful international animated series Mia and Me. Sellers’ biggest role has been Tyrene, one of the “Sand Snakes,” the trio of deadly sister warriors on Game of Thrones. Terrific with a fiery style, she got attention for a scene flaunting her chest before a man dying of poison and only giving the cure when he talked of how beautiful she was. Sellers just has the exotic air needed for Jasmine and would have been interesting to see how that sexual presence is toned down yet still a good edge for the princess.
11. Shay Mitchell
Born in Canada, this actress possesses a fantastic allure thanks to her mix of Irish and Filipino descent. She’s a first cousin to Lea Salonga, the noted Broadway star and has shown some nice singing of her own. After time modeling, Mitchell landed the role of Emily Fields in the long-running hit Pretty Little Liars. She stood out wonderfully with the part, Emily fighting for acceptance as a jock but blossoming discovering she was gay. Mitchell was gorgeous in the role with risqué stuff like skinny-dipping and going along with the insane storylines. It’s made her a social media star and waiting for her break in movies. Mitchell has the charm for Jasmine as well as the lush looks that can lend themselves well to the role and anyone who can handle the wild plots of PLL can also take on magic and music in a crazy CGI setting and look great doing it.
10. Naya Rivera
Her background is Latino yet there’s something so exotic about this starlet it can lend itself to Jasmine as well. In between gigs in slews of TV shows like CSI and others, Naya Rivera worked as a telemarketer and a variety of small jobs. In 2009, she latched onto the role of Santana Lopez, the feisty cheerleader on the Fox hit Glee. At first, she was just a side character but blossomed with Santana getting fantastic lines and great numbers. She also had a big plot getting into a relationship with fellow cheerleader Brittany (Heather Morris) and coming out to her religious family. She’s been quiet since the show ended but still looks amazingly hot. Rivera has the looks, the acting chops and definitely the singing voice to pull Jasmine off. True, there can be controversy over her Latino but at least she has that special allure needed for the part and could shine well in it.
9. Melinda Shankar
She may look hot but this isn’t a woman to mess with. Trained in ballet, Melinda Shankar is also a black belt in karate and quite skilled. Born to Indian parents, she grew up in Canada, studying acting and getting into minor roles. She’s best known for her part as Alli in the long-running hit show Degrassi: The Next Generation. Growing nicely in the part, Shankar showed great humor but drama of her complex character getting into bad affairs, the wrong side of bullying and more. She followed it up in the popular comedy series How To Be Indie, shattering stereotypes of her land. For the last few years, Shankar has taken a break in acting, running her own cosmetics business in Canada. But she’s making a comeback and a role like Jasmine would have been fun, showing her great talent on display and a woman who could have made the princess believably tough.
8. Priyanka Chopra
Often topping lists of one of the most beautiful women alive, Chopra has been a popular face in Bollywood for years. A very smart woman, she actually had plans to study either engineering or criminal law before being swayed to join the film industry. She soon became a major star in various films in India with various major box office hits, showing a good singing voice along with a fine talent for comedy. In 2015, Chopra became a star in the U.S. with her role as Alex Parrish on the ABC thriller Quantico. This had her showing a sexier and tougher side to handle the wild antics. She’s also moved to movies such as this summer’s Baywatch. Chopra has the beauty for the role and a good star power that could have served Jasmine well and made the character shine well as well as making the movie a real hit in India.
7. Deepika Padukone
This gorgeous actress broke out big-time in early 2017 with her role in XXX: Return of Xander Cage. Her part as a tattooed, suave super-spy was terrific and showed a great promise that should pay off. Padukone has been doing a lot of work over the years in the industry. The daughter of badminton player Prakash Padukone (yes, badminton is a big sport in India), she seemed ready to continue that but got into acting instead. She won raves playing a dual role in the smash hit Om Shanti Om and moved onto other hits like Cocktail and others. She’s won several of Filmfare’s Best Actress awards and emerged as a huge star in her land. She can be fantastic as a princess or a party girl type, both things she can use to play Jasmine and shine so well on screen. This is a woman who can steam things up but look great nonetheless and would be amazing to see her taking on a Disney icon.
6. Freida Pinto
It’s somewhat ironic that Pinto is a lesser-known face in Indian cinema considering her breakthrough in mainstream Hollywood. After time at St. Xavier’s college, Pinto began work in the Bollywood industry but not much attention there. What got her going big time was Slumdog Millionaire, the Oscar-winning hit that rocked the industry. Pinto was acclaimed for her turn as the girlfriend and soon opening up doors for roles beyond “Middle Eastern girl.” She’s gone on to star in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Immortals and others. Pinto has also been acclaimed for her fantastic red carpet style, a gorgeous beauty who always stands out anywhere she goes. That would be perfect for the part of Jasmine, a lovely style and Pinto showcasing a true beauty that goes a long way toward winning folks over. She hasn’t done as much singing but she could really have stood out as Jasmine and adding someone with her proven star power could help elevate the role up even more.
5. Jade Thirlwall
With both Egyptian and Libyan blood in her, Thirlwall looks terrific and sure has the singing chops for Jasmine. She proved that when she became part of Little Mix, a successful girl band who rose to fame on The X Factor in 2008. Since then, they’ve been a huge hit in England with multiple best-selling singles and albums. Thrilwall has been a real star, citing influences like Beyonce and Cheryl Cole and looking terrific with her style. She has the exotic looks for the part and sure has the singing as well. True, there’s the question of how good an actress she can be which can work against her. Yet, Thirlwall showcases a fun charm and would have done nicely in the part. Sure, a few acting lessons can help but she has the look down well and a fresh ingénue could have made the movie shine more.
4. Lily Singh
Her Twitter handle is “Superwoman” and many fans believe that fits Singh very well. Her You Tube channel has made this comedian/writer a huge success with millions of followers. She’s a fantastic performer, able to take on a variety of outfits and costumes with a terrific flair and style. She has a fantastic flair and comedy for things and can get into any role fast. True, she’s not an experienced actress but a fresh face would be something for the role. She does carry with her a huge following among the Internet and that would work to get fans into the movie. With 12 million You Tube subscribers, that’s a huge fanbase that Singh could use. Her good humor can carry her and she’s proven she has the chops for the songs. Disney has gone for fresh faces before and Singh would have done well to be far more believable in the role than others.
3. Alia Bhatt
Emerging as one of the hottest fresh faces in Bollywood, Alia Bhatt is bursting with talent and ready to take off majorly. Her family is among the biggest in the Bollywood film world, her father a director/producer and thus she’s born for the business. After time as a model and then a child star, Bhatt broke out in the comedy Student of the Year that had her winning hails and nominated for awards. She’s since become a star in musical comedies and a few dramas as well, a lovely style that shows more steel than her beautiful features would indicate. Not only is she an actress but Bhatt has also started her own clothing line and performed in concerts. At just 24, she’s seen as one of the biggest stars in the India film industry and just needs a special breakthrough. Playing Jasmine could be it and make Bhatt more a name and a true princess.
2. Karen David
The fact this woman has played Jasmine already should have made her a top contender for the movie version. The gorgeous actress was born in India but raised in Canada and has the look down pat with her lush dark hair and lovely features. She broke out showing her singing chops on the ABC show Galavant playing a renegade princess in some nutty adventures. She showed a terrific singing voice and a lovely persona and while the show only lasted two seasons, it got a good cult following. David then landed the role of Jasmine on the sixth season of Once Upon a Time. She made the princess tougher and more independent, terrific with her version of Aladdin and believable in the role. It would have been good to see her reprise it for the big screen as unlike many on this list, David has good experience in the role already.
1. Aiysha Hart
Born to an English father and Saudi Arabian mother, Aiysha Hart is a rising starlet in the international scene. After starting as a model, she’s gotten more attention for roles like the British film Honor. Ironically, one of her first roles was in Dijnn, a Tobe Hopper horror movie using the idea of an evil genie on the loose. Honour got her attention, winning raves and Hart cited as a good highlight. She then played a princess in the BBC sci-fi series Atlantis, mixing in the regal looks with terrific charm and beauty amid wild adventures. The show was sadly canceled after just two seasons but Hart has continued her work in British crime shows New Blood and Line of Duty. Her gorgeous looks and experience as a princess make her a top candidate for Jasmine and while she hasn’t sung much, she could still shine as the leading lady.
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