Raya and the Last Dragon is now in theaters and Disney+ Premiere for everyone to enjoy! When sitting down with the cast I learned getting to the finish wasn’t always quite so easy!

First off, the majority of the cast had never met in person. More specifically, the leads Kelly Marie Tran (Raya), Awkwafina (Sisu), and Daniel Dae Kim (Chief Benja) hadn’t. The majority of the chemistry had to be built by the skillful directors and the handful of zooms chats between cast members, and pulling from their own personal experience. According to Kelly Marie Tran (Star Wars), the relationship between Raya and Chief Benja was similar to the one she has with her own father. 

“…the way that he bestows upon Raya all of these really incredible ideas at such a young age. I cried in so many scenes with Benja. [Co-Directors] Don and Carlos can attest to that. I love their relationship, and I think Daniel Dae Kim is just the best.”

Daniel Dae Kim has two children with wife Mia, so he’s not unfamiliar with giving fatherly advice. However, Kim gives all credit to the kindness, and softness Chief Benja has when speaking with Raya to Co-Directors Don and Carlos. Kim felt it was easy to make Chief Benja a dictator, a “stentorian orator”, but they kept pushing him to speak with her more intimately because of the loving relationship his character has with his daughter, Raya. 

“…when I saw those scenes between the two of us [Raya and Chief Benja], I really thought that connection came through, even though we never actually were in the booth together. So, it’s a real testament to your [Kelly Marie Tran] performance.”

It Wasn’t Always Easy For The Cast And Crew

However, this magical performance didn’t happen without any hiccups at all. Since all the actors were recording from home, that also meant that Kim was in charge of all the technical equipment. During one of his very first home recording sessions, Kim realized he never hit record and lost over an hour’s worth of work!

“So this is what happens when you leave the recording and the technical stuff to the actors. So, we lost that hour, but I learned my lesson. And, it was kind of hassle-free the rest of the way.”

Thank goodness he figured it out and was able to give us an equal if not better performance bringing to like the kind heartedness of Chief Benja to Raya and the Last Dragon!

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