Mena Massoud got what he thought was going to be his big break when he landed the title role in Disney’s live-action Aladdin, which made over $1 billion worldwide. Turns out that playing Aladdin wasn’t the break Mena thought it was going to be, because he hasn’t gotten a single audition since the movie came out. Some who have seen Aladdin might be wondering if Mena not getting roles has to do with his acting skills, or lack thereof, but since when did being good at acting keeps actors from getting roles (see: every Razzie nominee)?!
Mena talked to The Daily Beast about his struggles to find acting work after Aladdin:
“I’m kind of tired of staying quiet about it,” he says. “I want people to know that it’s not always dandelions and roses when you’re doing something like Aladdin. ‘He must have made millions. He must be getting all these offers.’ It’s none of those things. I haven’t had a single audition since Aladdin came out.”
“It’s wild to a lot of people,” he says. “People have these ideas in their head. It’s like, I’m sitting here being like, OK, Aladdin just hit $1 billion. Can I at least get an audition? Like I’m not expecting you to be like, here’s Batman. But can I just get in the room? Like, can you just give me a chance? So it’s not always what you think.”
Mena says that he’s often the only ethnic guy in the audition room and that director’s often cast him as their “wild card” option. Mena is Egyptian and immigrated to Canada when he was 3 years old and said his parents weren’t thrilled he wanted to be an actor, especially one who is most likely to be cast as a terrorist or a fully-clothed Aladdin.
He loved acting but his family had ingrained in him that it was not a career option. “I’m Egyptian and my parents are immigrants and it’s like, you don’t do that.” So he studied neuroscience at the University of Toronto, before deciding to follow his passion and transfer to Ryerson University’s theater performance program.
Massoud’s first on-screen role was a character whose only designation was “al Qaeda #2” in the CW drama series Nikita. From that point, he set a goal to find characters who aren’t terrorists or bring negative connotations because of the color of their skin or ethnicity.
It is telling that Mena starred in a $1 billion hit and is hot, yet can’t get an audition, but Rob Schneider is doing just fine.
Hopefully more roles will open up for Mena, and in the meantime he can entertain us by putting up more Instagram workout posts.