In Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon, the titular character is strong, resilient, clever, has a strong bond to her community of the world of Kumandra and, above all, hopeful. That said, it’s no wonder that Kelly Marie Tran was chosen to voice the titular heroine. The Vietnamese-American actress emits those qualities and then some.
Tran, whose parents are Vietnamese refugees, shares a strong bond with Raya as well as the movie, Disney’s first film that is driven by a fantastical amalgamation of Southeast Asian culture. The animated feature tells the story of the aforementioned Kumandra, a land where humans and dragons co-exist. When an evil force threatens the land and its people, dragons sacrificed themselves to save humanity.
Fast forward 500 years later and the smokey evil is back as the Kumandra is divided more now than ever. It’s up to Raya to find the last dragon (the mythically hilarious and heartfelt Sisu, voiced by Awkwafina) so that they can restore the fractured land and unite its people. Of course, on her adventures, she meets some eccentric, fun people from the neighboring lands of Kumandra.
In this special “extra” episode of Deadline’s New Hollywood Podcast, Tran talked about her journey to Hollywood and how she did not let social media Star Wars trolls stop her shine. She also talks how Raya and the Last Dragon speaks to the need for unity among the Asian American community and allies during a time when they are being faced with acts of violence.
Raya and the Last Dragon debuts in theaters and on Disney+ on March 5.
Listen to Tran’s episode below.
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