The new live-action Disney movie Lilo & Stitch hasn’t even started filming yet and it’s already been plagued by controversy. The casting process can be very difficult. Sifting through thousands of actors, auditioning hundreds, narrowing the number down, and finally making a cast decision is not even half the battle. Once that person’s name is released to the public, the internet is bound to tear them apart.
The live-action Lilo & Stitch remake has already been criticized for its white-washing of main characters. Specifically, Sydney Agudong who will play Lilo Pelekai’s older sister and caretaker Nani Pelekai, and Kahiau Machado as her love interest, David came under intense fire. Whether Agudong is of Hawaiian descent or, as the Hollywood Reporter published, born and raised on the island of Kauai, is still up for debate.
On the other hand, Kahiau Machado ethnic background became a small matter once internet sleuths quickly uncovered his use of the ‘N’ word on a Spotify playlist. There was immediate backlash to him being “light-skinned,” but the racial slur on social media was totally unacceptable.
Turns out Disney Casting is listening. While the Walt Disney Company has not responded to white-washing accusations, they did fire Kahiau Machado pretty promptly after the discovery.
Congratulations, Kaipo Dudoit! Kaipo Dudoit was announced as Disney’s replacement David in the new movie, and it looks like it will be his big acting break if he can hold on to the part.
Some social media users wrongly assumed that Disney recast Kahiau Machado because of the internet backlash, but most are just happy that Kaipo Dudoit seems to resemble the animated character from the original. Some even argued that he should have been cast in the first place and not been the second choice.
Can you believe Kaipo Dudoit was NOT Disney’s first choice to play David Kawena in #LiloAndStitch??? The dude is practically a real life David.
Can you believe Kaipo Dudoit was NOT Disney’s first choice to play David Kawena in #LiloAndStitch???
The dude is practically a real life David. ??♂️ pic.twitter.com/TahrJeDh4A
— Hector Navarro (@imhectornavarro) April 22, 2023
As far as the other Lilo & Stitch casting: newcomer Maia Kealoha will play 6-year-old live-action Lilo, and Zach Galifianakis is also signed on. The live-action remake will stream on Disney Plus at a future unknown date.