Mixed Reactions on Disney’s “Raya and the Last Dragon” regarding SEA Representation

The trailer release of Disney’s “Raya and the Last Dragon” has spawned a rolling ball of mixed reactions regarding how Southeast Asia (SEA) was represented.

Inspired by the cultures of Southeast Asian countries, one of the objectives of the upcoming animation is to provide viewers an in-depth look at Raya’s journey as she fulfills her mission of finding the mythical “last dragon.”

With a voice cast of Asian American artists, Kelly-Marie Tran leads the pack bagging the role of Raya. Joining her are Sandra Oh, Gemma Chan and Awkwafina.

However, the casting has received criticism for having a majority of East Asian artists taking the major roles, pointing out that Tran is the only actress who is from Southeast Asia in the first place.

In a twitter post, a netizen expressed her conflicted emotions of the casting saying how big it would have been if actual Southeast Asian actors were given the roles and pointed out that Hollywood lacks such actors.

Another one pointed out the uniqueness of each Southeast Asian country, with each of its citizens speaking a different language and having different customs. A Thai is totally different from an Indonesian and not having this emphasized results into zero representation of its ethnicity.

Echoing the first two sentiments, another netizen said while she is all for Asian representation in Hollywood, Southeast Asian culture is very different from that of East Asia.

Regardless of these misgivings though, the film paved the way for Tran to make her mark in history as the first Southeast Asian actress to bag the lead role of a Disney animation.