A Very Necessary Primer On Aladdin's Mena Massoud, Your New Favorite Disney Prince

Photo: Courtesy of Disney.
Photo: Jesse Grant/Getty Images.
Are you ready to have a crush on Aladdin again? With Disney’s new live-action Aladdin we’ve got a brand new Aladdin to swoon over, and this one is actually a real person and not just a cartoon character drawn on a page. While there’s nothing wrong with having a crush on a two-dimensional Aladdin (it’s okay, we were all children of the 90’s), having a crush on new Aladdin, Mena Massoud, sounds like the much better option right now. He’s the new, real life Disney Prince of our childhood dreams.
It’s like Disney casting was reading our dream journal regarding what we want to see out of the character. On-screen, Massoud as Aladdin is caring, considerate, constantly smoldering a little bit, and respectful of Princess Jasmine. He also keeps his best friend — a kleptomaniac money – in check, and sings, dances, and nails backflips on the spot. Could you want anything more out of a prince?
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You’re 100% going to come out of Aladdin with a small (if not giant) crush on Massoud, but what is he like off screen?
Mena Massoud's Early Life
Massoud was actually born in Cairo, Egypt, but later moved to Canada with his parents and two older sisters. They settled in Ontario, but Massoud has made a conscious effort to keep close ties to his original Middle Eastern culture.
He's Vegan — & His Mom Cried When She Found Out
Massoud runs his own vegan series, Evolving Vegan, where he tries to break down the stigma about the dietary choice, and also welcome those new to vegan into the lifestyle. Talking to Esquire Middle East, Massoud said, “I’d told [my mom] that I’d wanted to transition into a plant-based lifestyle so I was giving up eating meat. I think she thought I was joking so she kept trying to call my bluff!” Coming from a culture that relies heavily on meats, Massoud only eating rice at the dinner table was too much for his mom and she broke down crying.
He’s Like, Very Into His Veganism
In the same Esquire article, Massoud notes, “People think that when it comes to veganism you have to go all in. Bang! No honey, no leather, no milk. So we want to show people that it can be a gradual process. You don’t have to be perfect, and can always work at slowly transitioning to that way of life—because even if you start by adding a couple of vegan recipes into your weekly rotation, you’re going to be start benefiting your health and the planet, so everybody wins.”
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You can shop the Evolving Vegan website (FYI: There are cookies) or follow them on Instagram (FYI: the Instagram includes a lot of pictures of Massoud, obviously).
His Friendship With Costar Naomi Scott Is Just So Pure
Obviously, to play Aladdin and Princess Jasmine these actors have got to have amazing chemistry. But, that translates to even their off-screen friendship too, as these two have been inseparable during the Aladdin press tour, giving us so many adorable behind-the-scenes moments.
Massoud Didn't Really Know How To Sing & Dance Before Aladdin (Shocking, We Know)
Talking to Entertainment Weekly, Massoud explained, “The singing and dancing I had to really train and put in time for, as I’m predominantly an actor first.” Seeing the end result, you’d never know that he hadn’t been training at both of these things his whole life.
He's Really Excited For People To See His Moves
During the Aladdin press conference, Massoud admitted that he’s a big fan of Step Up, explaining that he grew up watching the movie, “which to me was like the dance film of my generation.” The choreographer for Step Up, Jamal Sims, also did Aladdin. His most memorable song is probably “Friend Like Me,” because as he explains, “I had to learn that choreography at the beginning, but then pretend like the Genie was manipulating me. So we tried doing it with mime. And then [director] Guy [Richie] actually had this brilliant idea to actually attach these long puppeteering arms onto me and physically manipulate me. So we had a lot of fun with that piece. It was definitely a fun part of the whole process.”
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Massoud Has Other Projects In the Pipeline, But You Might Be Waiting A While
He has a movie coming out, Strange but True, and it unfortunately doesn’t have a release date yet. He also plays one of Jack Ryan’s colleagues during the first season of Prime Video’s Jack Ryan, but it’s unclear if he’ll return for Season 2.
But Until Then, There's Always Massoud's Instagram
Maybe the thing we’re missing the most about the animated Aladdin is that Aladdin’s wardrobe is not just a vest, no shirt. But, if you want that fix in your life, Massoud’s social media page has you covered.
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