Chinese actress and singer Liu Yifei has been cast as the title character in the upcoming live-action reboot of Disney‘s Mulan.


Liu, who is better known by her stage name Crystal Liu, landed the role of Hua Mulan after a lengthy search for an ethnically-appropriate actress for the role. Nearly 1,000 Chinese actresses auditioned for the part, which required martial arts skills and the ability to speak fluent English.

Liu, 30, has been nicknamed by the Chinese public “Fairy Sister” for her pure and innocent appearance, and has been one of the country’s most popular actresses of this generation. She enrolled at the Beijing Film Academy as a teenager and acted in a few hit TV series in the mid-2000s. Liu speaks fluent English after living in Queens, New York, for her role in 2008’s The Forbidden Kingdom, which also starred both Jackie Chan and Jet Li. She also played alongside Nicolas Cage and Hayden Christensen in 2014’s Outcast, and opposite Emile Hirsch in The Chinese Widow this year.

Her most recent film credit was as the star of fantasy romance Once Upon a Time, which earned $82.3 million at the box office in China this pat summer. She earned her first major acting award (from the Macau International Movie Festival) for 2012’s The Assassins. In addition to her acting, Liu has been a brand ambassador for Dior, Tissot, Garnier, and Pantene.

The live-action Mulan is being directed by Niki Caro and produced by Chris BenderJason Reed, and Jake Weiner, and is looking to be released in 2019. The original animated version that debuted in 1998 earned $304.3 million worldwide, as well as Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations.

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