It was also important for script writer Qui Nguyen that Raya’s character avoided the stereotypes of past Asian American characters: “When characters that look like me show up in action movies, they’re always depicted in one certain way: stoic, serious, oddly obsessed with bringing honor to our family...Raya is an action star that actually sounds like us, too. She’s fun. She’s quippy. She’s clever.”
The movie was completed during the COVID-19 pandemic, which means that the hundreds of animators, directors, actors and writers had to work together remotely, requiring teamwork and trust like never before -- common themes in the movie itself.
As Nguyen put it: "Working for Disney, I think part of what we do is that we deal in magic. I think, right now, the world is very broken. This movie has a lot of magic in it, but I think the biggest piece of magic in it is trust. It is the real secret ingredient that will save our fictional world of Kumandra. And it's a message I think is really important for the world to have and see."
"Raya and the Last Dragon" drops in theaters and on Disney+ with premier access March 5.