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Why we should not be too hasty in our reaction to Whitehall being cast for Disney's first major gay role

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Debates and controversy have certainly been at a peak recently following Jack Whitehall's announcement that he's been cast in Disney's first openly gay role in its latest project, Jungle Cruise, based on the Disney theme park ride of the same name.

Critiscm about the casting include tweets such as:

However, should Whitehall's heterosexuality dismiss him from having access to this acting opportunity? Not necessarily.

Within the acting industry, there is no doubt that actors in the LGBTQ+ community should have just as many opportunities for roles as those who are heterosexual, and even though the gap is slowly becoming increasingly smaller, there is still work to be done in regards to equality within Hollywood. There is no denying that.

IAN WEST/PA

Image credit: IAN WEST/PA

That said, there is also the discussion that just because an actor's sexuality fits the profile of a particular role, that does not mean that their skills and such fit that of the opportunity being advertised. The focus should not just be on the person's sexuality. If there is an individual with more aligning acting skills, which in the long term will evoke a more developed character, expressing the role in an appropriate manner, they are more likely to be suited to the role at hand. An actor's sexuality should not be the main asset of being successful in obtaining an opportunity.

Furthermore, to have major gay characters within films is a massive milestone in itself and praise should be given to Disney for making that step in wanting to portray diversity within their projects. Understandably, there are frustrations about the casting and of course it is going to take time for Hollywood to truly portay diversity, but with LGBTQ+ actors raising their profiles gradually through playing straight characters, limiting them to roles based on their sexuality can be deemed as typecasting, which goes against the concept of equality in itself.

One person tweeted:

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