Disney’s Raya and The Last Dragon is now available to stream on Disney+. Read Sarah’s review of the film here – spoiler alert: it’s GOOD. I loved it. I loved the story, I love the actors, I laughed, I cried more than I expected to, and it looks spectacular. Also… the costumes and the hair and makeup are amazing. In an animated movie? Um, yes. Raya (Kelly Marie Tran) and Namaari (Gemma Chan) will give you hair envy.
Ordinarily, where Disney is concerned, a movie like this would come with a big, splashy premiere. And the premiere would bring out Hollywood’s Asian elite. That, obviously, can’t happen right now. So they did a virtual red carpet instead. Of course it’s not the same, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t get a great outfit and our Outfit of the Week on Kelly Marie Tran…who already had a fashion moment this week on the cover of The Hollywood Reporter.
Stunning, right? That headdress! The drama of the gold against the black! And also, the cultural significance:
kellyâ€™s traditional dress and headpiece is created by vietnamese designer thai nguyen, from paris by night fame! https://t.co/5PIcSxBEX0— Teresa Tran ðŸ’ªðŸ¼ðŸ’¥ (@teresatran__) March 5, 2021
This is a huge moment for Kelly and for the Southeast Asian community – she’s a Disney princess now! She’s literally been dreaming of this her entire life.
I think I might be crying again. And if you’re not crying, how about after you watch previous Disney princesses welcome Kelly to the Disney princess family? Mulan and Tiana and Ariel and Belle and so many more:
That clip was edited together from the full-length video of the virtual red carpet and I’ve included that below this post – it’s about half an hour and if you have the time, it’s worth your time because all the Raya and The Last Dragon cast members show up (Awkwafina, Gemma Chan, Sandra Oh, Benedict Wong) but if you can only spare a few minutes, the beginning is all you need, seeing Kelly get emotional over this monumental achievement.
For the Asian community at large, it’s also something to celebrate – at a time when we need the joy, as anti-Asian racism is on the rise, and so many of our communities’ headlines have over the last few weeks been dominated by hate crimes, like this one just two days ago, a young Asian couple assaulted in Chinatown in Seattle. The woman was struck in the face with a rock in a sock. She ended up with a fractured nose and several chipped teeth. Her boyfriend was hit in the head, requiring eight stitches. For the last year, they’ve been doing community patrols in Chinatown specifically to try and protect against this kind of violence – and it’s still unavoidable. There has not yet been an arrest for what the police are calling a “bias crime”.
So when I say that Raya and The Dragon is arriving at a good time, I mean that on multiple levels. Storytelling expands our worldview and our capacity for empathy. And the story of Raya is about trusting each other to create real bonds. If you add it to your watch list this weekend, let me know what you think.