Kelly Marie Tran cast as a lead in animated ‘Raya and the Last Dragon’

Disney has released the first look image of its upcoming animated film, Raya and the Last Dragon, as well as an updated voice cast. Kelly Marie Tran has joined the Walt Disney Animation Studios film in the titular role of Raya. This makes the Star Wars actor the first Southeast Asian in the lead role of a Disney animated film.

Tran has replaced Cassie Steele, who was originally announced as the voice of Raya in August 2019, when Disney first announced the movie as its newest in-house animated production. Tran joins Awkawafina, who plays a dragon in human form named Sisu.

The first look of the movie shows Raya and her trusted steed Tuk Tuk, whom the creators describe as “a fuzzy bear meets an insect version of an armadillo.”

The film is set in the magical realm of Kumandra, and follows Raya, a princess and a warrior who teams with a crew of misfits in her quest to find the Last Dragon and save Kumandra from evil forces.

Disney has confirmed that the film would reflect Southeast Asian culture and myths, particularly getting inspiration from places like Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia.

The film is being directed by Don Hall (Big Hero 6, Moana) and Carlos López Estrada (Blindspotting). Playwright Qui Nguyen (Vietgone) and Adele Lim will serve as co-writers. Paul Briggs and John Ripa are co-directors while Peter Del Vecho (Frozen, Frozen 2) and Osnat Shurer (Moana) are the producers for the project.

Tran is best known for her role as Rose Tico in Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019).

Raya and the Last Dragon is set to debut on 12 March 2021.

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