It’s always such a treat to get to be a part of an interview with the people making behind the scenes. Thanks to Walt Disney Animation Studios for inviting me to be a part of a round table interview with writers and director of Raya and the Last Dragon. It was truly a wonderful experience seeing the passion and love they felt for Raya as they each spoke to us about the different parts of the film making process during the pandemic. Yes, the film was made with a remote crew working from home for the most part. They were able to come together towards the end luckily and if you stay for the bonus features you’ll see this awesome event they did special just to get everyone back together to celebrate the launch of the film.
Representation in Raya and the Last Dragon
Writer Adele Lim shared some great insight on the film and on her time at Disney that I just had to include for you. “Raya’s gender is never seen as an obstacle, never does – it is fantastic thing if only you were a man- situation arise” Plus, she shared that at any given point there is an even split of genders in the different scenes.”
“On my first day in Disney, I was taking the elevator from the parking lot up. There were a bunch of female story artists in there who all you know, there were Indonesians, and people from Thailand and the Philippines. And this has never happened to me in my career in Hollywood. It’s not like this team was brought together for Raya, these were already amazingly talented young artists who were already there in the story department in visual development. And so, you know, we had this wonderful cultural trust, that was helping really steep the entire team in the cultures.”
Qui added that “One of the special things about Disney is that yeah, you can say we have the best of the best, but it’s the investment in all of the artists that come in and you get so much incredible experience and become the best after working day in and day out. The diversity is beautiful and we’re still making movies together, working together and I always want to compliment Disney on this.”
If you haven’t watched the newly released bonus features, make sure to head over to the giveaway to win one of two digital codes here. The film is amazing but the bonus features truly adds so much more to the film. Seeing all of the beautiful faces that created this work of art. Disney is doing a wonderful job of being inclusive and giving all races and nationalities a voice and face for all to see.
The martial arts in the film came from writer Qui Nguyen’s love of Hong Kong and Bruce Lee films and growing up. “It was very important for me to celebrate South East Asia and martial arts that I practiced like Muy Thai. I loved that I could go out and study Bruce Lee unlike Star Wars, I can’t go out and move things with my brain.”
Final Thoughts and Take Away
I got to ask the final question of the interview. While you and I might be Disney+ subscribers, not everyone is. My question was, what did each of them want the new audience that is experiencing the film on DVD and Blu-Ray for the first time to take away from Raya and the Last Dragon.
Director Don Hall shared “We hope that they are entertained at a high level, I think the movie is funny and very emotional. It explores a theme that is very relevant to today.” Lim added, “I grew up in Malaysia, the first movie I ever watched was Snow White and I never thought I’d see a South East Asian in a Disney film. So I hope children from around the world get to No matter where you are from or what you look like that your face and your story gets to be celebrated.”
Qui concluded the interview by saying, “I love the fact that we added another super hero to the world that kind of looks like me and my kids and we diversified how we look at what heroes look like and that means the world to me. I hope people love her as much as we loved making her.”
We do love Raya and if you haven’t watched the film yet, just wait- you are going to love her and this film too!