Mena Massoud thinks it will "take time" for people to "get used to" seeing people of colour in leading roles
The 'Aladdin' star - who plays the titular role in the live-action remake of the Disney classic - has admitted that it's "harder" for him to get opportunities in Hollywood because of his ethnicity
17 June 2019
Speaking in an interview with Mad About Town magazine, the 27-year-old star - who is Egyptian-Canadian - admitted: "It's harder for me to be a leading man, because of the lack of opportunity and the fact that people are not used to it.
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"It's going to take time for people to get used seeing a person of colour as a lead actor, because we have been doing only one thing for so many years."
The 'Jack Ryan' star says he hopes the "diverse" 'Aladdin' cast is celebrated.
He added: "Everyone on screen is a person of colour and not only that, we're all from very different places ... You know, I'm Egyptian-Canadian. Naomi [Scott, Princess Jasmine] is British-Indian. Marwan [Kenzari, Jafar] is Tunisian-Dutch. Navid [Negahban, The Soultan] is Iranian-American, but he also spent time in Germany. "It's all incredibly diverse and I hope people celebrate that."
Meanwhile, Mena can't believe how quickly his career has taken off since he moved to Los Angeles as just two years ago he and a friend were squashed in a tiny flat, that resembled a cupboard, trying to make ends meet.
He said recently: "Two years ago, I moved to Los Angeles and I was living in a closet with my friend. I never thought I'd get to do this so quickly after moving here. So it's been a blessing. I'm blessed."
Mena couldn't believe his luck when Guy Ritchie decided to cast him in the fantasy film alongside Will Smith's magic lamp-rubbing Genie.
However, the first time they met was slightly awkward as he was starstruck.
He said: "First time I met him, I mean, I grew up watching his films, so I was really nervous and I forgot to introduce myself.
"And [director] Guy Ritchie was there, so I thought he was gonna help break the ice! But he didn't, so I had to back track a little [and introduce myself]. Guy [left] me hanging, and I've brought that up several times."
The former 'Fresh Prince of Bel-Air' star, 50, found their first encounter equally odd.
He explained: "We're on set, and there's 200 dancers standing around, and I'm talking to the director, and then this dude just comes up and he's standing in our conversation. And I'm like, 'That's a bold-a** dancer, [who's] going to stand there in the middle of the director and the genie in this conversation.' And he just stood there and he didn't say nothing! He just smiled and then walked away."