The mess of the Lilo and Stitch live action

The mess of the Lilo and Stitch live action

Dentallia Betoney, Entertainment Reporter

Around the end of 2020  Disney released a trailer to the upcoming Lilo and Stitch live action. This trailer did not necessarily show who was being cast but just a teaser to the upcoming movie. Recently Disney started releasing the casting for each character. Towards the end of April this year there was a release of who would play Nani Pelekai, Lilo’s older sister. Outrage filled the internet as Disney announced Sydney Agudong will be playing Nani in the live action. 


Many did not like Sydney as the Nani. This was because Sydney did not look like Nani, and Sydney is not Native Hawaiian. An important part to Nani is her culture and features. Unlike other characters of this time of animation, Nani showed more realistic body features; Darker skin, thicker thighs, and big nose. Nani had been favored by many people because the physical characteristics. This is the main reason why people are outraged that Sydney is being cast as Nani. This is an example of eurocentric beauty standards and colorism being used in the film industry. The Pasifika people need more positive representation of their culture and appearances. 


“I think they should have found a dark skin Hawaiian to play her. The film industry often undermines taking roles of dark skinned people for years in Hollywood and the whole point of lilo and stitch was to show that representation for a dark skinned Hawaiian.” Junior, Keilani Taua, said.


Along with Nani being Hawaiian, she is native Hawaiian. There is a fine line between someone living in Hawaii their whole life and calling themselves Hawaiian and actually being indigenous to the land before colonization. In this case Sydney Agudong has no background of being Native Hawaiian but she is rather a long time resident of Hawaii. Another thing that outraged the people along with Sydney not being native Hawaiian is Sydney’s mother is a realtor in Hawaii. But why is this a problem? Many Native Hawaiians are having to move from their native lands to the mainland (United States) because of tourists. How does this connect with Sydney’s mother? Her mom, Karen Agudong, is selling land to non-native Hawaiians. This outraged people because their family, who isn’t native Hawaiian, are contributing to the gentrification of Hawaiian land.