It’s finally the year for the release of our very first Southeast Asian princess Disney film, “Raya and the Last Dragon”. The highly anticipated Asian princess, after “Mulan” and “Jasmine,” will bring in viewers all over the globe, as we tune in on this cultural melting pot film of Southeast Asia.
The movie was supposed to be aired in theaters in 2020, but due to COVID-19, it got delayed until 2021.
The plot is based around “Kumandra,” a fantasy world where humans and dragons reside alongside each other in harmony until an evil force becomes a threat to the land and its people. In order to save Kumandra, Raya has to search for the last dragon.
World renown voice actor, Kelly Marie Tran, who is known for her role as Rose Tico in the movie “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” will be voicing Raya herself. Tran is of Southeast Asian heritage, as both of her parents are of Vietnamese descent. Screenwriter, Adele Lim, is of Malaysian descent and is the writer of the 2018 smash hit movie “Crazy Rich Asians.”
“The thing people aren’t so aware of is that women in Southeast Asia have always had a certain standing. And even in this current day and age, whether it’s like standing in the family and society, economic power, they’re very empowered women,” Lim said.
Raya and the Last Dragon will empower those whose cultures are represented in the film, especially brown-skinned Asian women.
San Jose is known for its diversity and high population of Asian Americans. Wendy Magday, a Filipino American raised in San Jose, was shocked to witness Disney releasing a princess who looks like her.
“I’ve seen many Asians in my school with all different ethnic backgrounds, but in the media it’s the light skin Asians that are represented. I’m sure everyone here in the Bay will be supporting this film,” says Magday.
The lack of Asian representation in Disney films, aside from “Mulan” and “Aladdin,” is disheartening. Considering that Asia varies from Central Asia, East Asia, all the way down to South Asia. Our Southeast Asian heroine will bring pride and joy to all Asian princess film fanatics out there.
Raya and the Last Dragon is set to release on March 5th, 2021 in theaters across the country.