Raya and the Last Dragon is here for all to enjoy in theaters (if one is open near you) and on Disney+ Premium! Last week, I got to sit down with the all-star cast. They couldn’t be more excited for this film to be released. They highlighted the importance of keeping our Asian communities safe. It’s almost serendipitous because not only is Raya and the Last Dragon a great film with wonderful representation, but the message of the film is more important today than ever.
Daniel Dae Kim (Lost), who voices Raya’s father, Chief Benja, is a known advocate on multiple platforms orchestrating ways to come together and keep Asian lives safe during this time. Kim is so incredibly proud of this film and his character saying Chief Benja is “…someone that I aspire to be.” The overarching theme of Raya and the Last Dragon is TRUST. Which for most of us I would say is incredibly difficult to earn once lost.
Sandra Oh’s Virana Highlights The Complexity Of The Characters
The junket tried to steer clear of getting too political. However, Sandra Oh, who plays the voice of Virana – Chief of Fang, appreciated that the characters were incredibly complex and, just like all of us, was incredibly moved by the film.
“I feel myself struggling to learn how to trust as well. So to play a section of the film where it seems we are antagonists or the people who are struggling to take power, who are the powerful people, I feel like the storytelling and the characters, particularly Gemma’s character, Namaari, has a very nuanced and more complex look at things, which is where I feel like we need to bring storytelling anyway to a more nuanced point of view.”
Waves Of Antagonism, Not Just Clear Villainy
Adding onto Oh’s sentiment, Gemma Chan (Crazy Rich Asians) who is the voice of Virana’s daughter, Namaari is incredibly proud that her character is the antagonist, but not a clearcut villain – which is the main aspect that drew her into the story; nothing is black and white. When watching the film, you can see all sides of every tribe in Kumandra’s story, the lack of trust, and the fear they live by – which isn’t dissimilar to the world we live in today.
“…our world is complex, and the problems of the world are only going to start to begin to be solved if we all work together, and the lack of trust and the division is a huge problem. But again, you can also understand why the people of Fang are trying to protect themselves. You can understand why we have elements in society that want to protect their own self-self-interests, and I think these are really complex themes to explore in a family film. And I applaud the storytellers for tackling this. And I think it couldn’t come at a more timely moment for where we are and the position we’re in in the world right now. So, i’m so happy and proud to be a part of this film.”
My personal hope is that everyone who is watching Raya and the Last Dragon enjoys the film and takes on the challenge to trust yourself and others a little more every day.