Flitting between LA, London, Jordan and Mexico, in the last month alone, Naomi Scott’s feet have barely touched the ground. But when you’ve landed the lead role as Jasmine in this month’s first live-action retelling of Aladdin, it’s inevitable things will take on a life of their own.
At a pertinent time when news headlines are dominated by new movements to further female advancement, the 26-year-old British actress and singer/songwriter has taken the foundations of the Princess Jasmine we all know and love, and revolutionised the character with a more nuanced, ‘hear me roar’ 21st-century version. “It wasn’t that I needed to make her ‘strong’, because women are strong, but I wanted to ensure she had a narrative outside of her just finding someone to marry. I wanted her to have some gravitas, that she had a sense of maturity about her and the sensibility to do things she wants to do, such as rule Agrabah.”
Naomi is compelling to watch, no more so than when she bestows upon the audience Speechless, Jasmine’s solo song and a new addition to the original soundtrack. The lyrics are a motivational raft for the audience - boys and girls alike, which is an important element for Naomi. Wise to the responsibility she has towards her audience, the premise of Jasmine refusing to bow to prescribed gender norms is as vital for the advancement of her character, as for Naomi’s commitment to helping build an equitable future for all.
Jumpsuit, Dhs19,055, Givenchy
“I did feel a responsibility every day, to both young boys and girls, to really think, ‘What am I putting out there,” she says. “And I think it’s such an important message to both boys and girls. We sometimes teach our boys not to show emotion, that being emotional is seen as negative, but actually these feminine qualities are just as strong as masculine qualities. Too many people are living with anxiety, or not understanding their mental health or how to deal with their emotions. The film is an ode to so many strong women and men who have spoken up against something and have ultimately protected the people that have come after them. So yes, in some ways this is just a ‘Disney’ movie, but the messages are so strong.”
Jasmine is the quintessential modern-day heroine - she dreams, she’s determined, she’s unafraid to use her voice. “I definitely wanted Jasmine to feel that she’s not afraid of anything, and when she’s on the magic carpet I wanted there to be a moment when she’s like, ‘Yo, let me have a ride!’” Naomi laughs. From magic carpets to red carpets, on which Naomi has been tripping the light fantastic amid a frenetic Aladdin press circuit schedule. A frothy red Armani gown for the opening in Amman (did you see her epic Instagram post from the ruins of the Amman Citadel?) to cotton candy Audrey Hepburn-elegance in Brandon Maxwell for the LA premiere. Her style is hard to pin down - androgyny-meets-toughened-up-femininity-meets-sports-luxe - but you can tell she’s having fun. And she nails daywear suiting better than most.
Dress, Dhs16,500, Tom Ford
While the press tour winds down, Naomi will only be spared a short summer before Hollywood comes knocking once more, as her next big movie, Elizabeth Banks’ Charlie’s Angels, releases in November. Almost 20 years on from Cam, Lucy and Drew’s retelling, this time Naomi buddies up with Kristen Stewart and fellow Brit-actress, Ella Balinska, as Charlie’s new-gen detectives. “What I adore is that my character Elena represents the idea that anyone can be an Angel. What’s so awesome about this film, is that Liz [Banks] wanted to create this idea about women in general and how women come together - but all different types, colours, shapes, sizes… She didn’t want this uniform idea, because she wanted to represent ‘women’. All women. So I was like, ‘I’m so down for that, yes Liz Banks, I’m going to get on your train!’”
With high-achieving, no-BS women a theme in Naomi’s career thus far, the simple reality is… She just wants everyone to feel valued. “I believe everyone deserves to be loved and have the same opportunities, and to be valued.” When asked what advice she’d give her teenage self, she says, “Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want.” Sentient counsel for women today.
And so, what does Naomi want? To play Boules in the garden of her English home with her husband - “We’re like an 80-year-old couple, it was so much fun!” - to write music, and “to be completely in control of my own ship - being my own captain,” she says.
Steering the Good Ship Scott and manoeuvring herself into Hollywood’s path, I think how lucky the next generation of girls is to have Naomi as their captain. It’s a brave new world out there and what a ride it is.
Read the full interview in the June 2019 issue of Harper's BAZAAR Arabia
Photography: Taylor Tupy
Styling: Gemma Deeks
Hair: John D at Forward Artists. Make-up: Allan Avendaño at Starworks. Manicure: Alex Jachino for Art Department using Zoya Nail Polish. Stylist's assistant: Alexandra Izdebski. Seamstress: Gulsen Kan. Editorial Producer: Laura Prior. Producer: Chris Sararo. Production co-ordinator: Ian Martinez. Production assistant: Natalie Goodman. Photographer's assistants: Jimmy Galt and Marco Collucci. Digital technician: Andrew Ngu.