Raya and the Last Dragon, an upcoming computer-animated Disney movie slated for 2021, is shaking up some of its previously announced casting choices. Replacing Cassie Steele (Degrassi: The Next Generation, Rick and Morty), according to Deadline, will be Kelly Marie Tran (Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker) in the titular role. Tran’s casting is historic: It marks the first time a Southeast Asian performer has led a Disney animated film.
Joining Tran are Don Hall (Moana, Big Hero 6) and Carlos López Estrada (Blindspotting) as directors on Raya and the Last Dragon–playwright Qui Nguyen (Vietgone) will join Adele Lim as co-writer. Paul Briggs and John Ripa will co-direct; Dean Wellins, who was originally slated as director alongside Briggs, will reportedly be directing another Disney animated movie.
“As filmmakers, Don and Carlos bring a combination of animation know-how and emotional storytelling to Raya and the Last Dragon, bringing our fantasy adventure to surprising, original, and dynamic heights,” said Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Chief Creative Officer Jennifer Lee. “They both saw the potential for this film and had a strong vision for the story, especially for our lead character, played by the wonderfully talented Kelly Marie Tran. And no small feat, directors Don and Carlos, writers Qui and Adele, and the entire crew of 400 Disney Animation artists are making this film together, while separated and working from home.”