Disney's live-action Mulan has found its lead in Chinese actress Yifei Liu

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Sep 3, 2019, 8:25 AM EDT (Updated)

After a year-long search, the live-action version of Disney's 1998 animated classic Mulan has found it's lead actress in Chinese actress Yifei Liu.

The search spanned five continents and close to 1,000 hopefuls to find the right actress to play Ha Mulan. Director Niki Caro (Whale Rider, The Zookeeper's Wife) finally selected Liu because she was born in Wuhan, Hubei, China, lived in the U.S. for a number of years, and will also be able to handle the martial arts the film requires.

Mulan is the latest live-action film from Disney, following last year's incredibly popular Beauty and the Beast and films like The Jungle Book and Maleficent, the film has the added pressure of making sure to keep the spirit of the original film while also making us fall in love with Mulan all over again. That's no easy feat, but Liu seems up to the task.

American audiences may know her from 2008's The Forbidden Kingdom, with Jackie Chan and Jet Li and 2014's Outcast with Nicolas Cage and Hayden Christensen. This year she starred in Billie August's The Chinese Widow alongside Emile Hirsch and the Chinese film Once Upon a Time. While Liu may be a new face to many Americans, she's well known (and well-loved) in China and has been a brand ambassador for Dior, Pantene, and others.

Mulan is currently planning a 2019 release.