28 Aug – Many might know Kelly Marie Tran as Rose Tico from the "Star Wars" film franchise, soon she'll be known as the voice of a Disney warrior princess.
It was announced by Walt Disney Animation Studios that the 31-year-old actress has been cast to voice the titular character of "Raya and the Last Dragon".
Tran replaces Cassie Steele, the Canadian singer-actress who was originally cast for the part.
No official reasons were given but there are speculations online that it could be because the upcoming animated film is the first Disney movie to be inspired by the cultures and people of Southeast Asia, the studio wanted a Southeast Asian to lead it.
This marks Tran, who was born in America to Vietnamese refugee parents, as the first actress of Southeast Asian descent to lead a Disney animated film.
Though there are fans who question whether the replacement is really about representation, since Steele herself technically had Southeast Asian blood, being of Filipino descent on her mother's side and British descent on her father's side.
Some speculate popularity could be a factor. Steele might have more acting experience, but Tran has the more high profile works, having appeared in "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" and "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" as well as lent her voice to TV's "Star Wars Forces of Destiny".
Whatever the reason may be, one thing's for certain: Awkwafina has a new cast mate now. The American rapper-actress of Chinese and Korean descents is still attached to voice a water dragon named Sisu.
"Raya and the Last Dragon", to be directed by Don Hall and Carlos López Estrada from a script by Qui Nguyen and Malaysian writer Adele Lim, is currently slated to open in North American cinemas on 11 March 2021.