Disney Focuses On Southeast Asian Cultures in Raya and the Last Dragon

Raya, a Southeast Asian heroine, takes centre stage in Disney's latest animated film.

Image courtesy of Disney

Disney just released the official teaser for Raya and the Last Dragon, which is seriously giving us Legend of Korra vibes.


What’s It About?

Raya and the Last Dragon will be set in a fictional land called Kumandra, which is comprised of five distinct clans. Raya is a daughter of a powerful chief, a warrior that is capable of fighting for herself and others. When the evil force of the villainous Druun threatens the peace of their land, Raya and her sidekick Tuk Tuk leave home in search of the last dragon to save them all.

To ensure they are doing justice to the cultures that inspire this film, Disney set up a Southeast Asia Story Trust (they previously set up the Oceanic Story Trust when they did Moana). They have also sent their creative teams to various Southeast Asian countries for research, including Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and more.


Who’s Involved?

When the film was first announced at the D23 Expo in 2019, Filipino-Canadian actress Cassie Steele was to play the titular character Raya. However, this has changed, with Kelly Marie Tran now taking over the role. She is joined by Awkwafina, who will voice the water dragon Sisu.

Don Hall and Carlos López Estrada are the directors, while playwright Qui Nguyen is joining Adele Lim (she wrote the script for Crazy Rich Asians) as co-writer. Paul Briggs and John Ripa are co-directors of the film.

Raya and the Last Dragon will be released in theatres March 12, 2021. This release date has been left out of the teaser though, so this might be subject to change depending on the COVID-19 situation at that point.

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