Disney continues to show diversity

Sierra Deaver, Editor

Disney continues to show diversity in its recent and upcoming films. In ‘Raya and the Last Dragon’, which was released earlier this month on Disney+, Disney continued this pattern of incorporating more cultures in their films. 

The world of ‘Raya and the Last Dragon’ is set in the fictional land of Kumandra which is heavily influenced by several Southeastern Asian cultures, such as Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and others. ‘Raya and the Last Dragon’ marks some firsts for Disney, as it is the first Disney film to feature a Southeastern Asian princess, who is voiced by Kelly Marie Tran, the first ever Southeastern Asian actor to lead in a Disney film.

“I watched the trailer and I thought it did a great job of celebrating asian culture. I thought that was good because there are not that many Disney movies that do that,” said Milana Mees (‘22).

‘Raya and the Last Dragon’ is not the first Disney film to spotlight a certain culture. Previous films highlighted certain cultures and included more representation. 

For example ‘Moana’, a Disney movie set on the fictional island of Motunui was released in 2016, and was based upon Polyneasian islands. A year later ‘Coco’ was released, featuring various aspects of Mexican culture, such as Day of the Dead (or Día de los Muertos in Spanish), a day spent honoring loved ones who died. 

Disney also displays diversity in their shows, such as ‘Amphibia’, featuring a protagonist that is Thai-American, and ‘The Owl House’, who’s main character is Dominican American. ‘The Owl House’ is also the first Disney show with a bisexual lead character.

There is also another film releasing this year that spotlights another culture. ‘Luca’ is an upcoming movie scheduled to be released in June 2021 on Disney+. The movie is set in a seaside town on the Italian Riviera, and follows the adventures of two young boys, Luca ,who is the titular character, and his friend Alberto, who are secretly sea monsters.

In recent years, the diversity in Disney films has surged, but why? One factor that might have led to an increase in diversity in Disney films is the rise of diversity in Disney staff. According to the Walt Disney Company,3 out of the 9 members of the board of directors are racially diverse, which could have an effect on the diversity of Disney’s films.

“I think Disney continuing diversity is a great idea. I believe it’s important to teach our kids or any age group different cultures and more,” said Mees.

All in all, Disney continues to strive for more diversity in their movies, as shown in ‘Raya and the Last Dragon’, and some of its previous films.

“As part of our ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion, we are in the process of reviewing our library and adding advisories to content that includes negative depictions or mistreatment of people or cultures,” said Disney.