In an article published by Vanity Fair last year, Tran said she she believes Raya is a gay character. So much so that when she was in the booth recording dialogue for the film, she felt “some romantic feelings going on there” between Raya and Namaari.
Once again emphasizing that she wasn’t speaking on anyone’s behalf but her own, she explained how much it meant to her that queer fans were relating to the film’s characters.
“I think if you’re a person watching this movie and you see representation in a way that feels really real and authentic to you, then it is real and authentic,” she said. “I think it might get me in trouble for saying that, but whatever.”
The “trouble” Tran was likely alluding to is that Disney has refused to acknowledge any type of relationship between the Raya characters.
Despite the claims of some Disney higher-ups – Disney corporate president Karey Burke recently said that as a mother of two queer children she supports Disney introducing “many LGBTQIA characters in our stories” – the company has been exceptionally slow at introducing queer characters into its productions. In fact, executives in various divisions of the company, including the Disney Channel and Pixar Animation Studios, have been accused of actively eliminating LGBTQ characters from the company’s productions.
Disney has long tried to appease as broad an audience as possible, but recent public attacks from conservative politicians targeting the company’s more progressive moves may force Mickey’s gloved hand. For Tran, it’s clear where Disney should be focusing its efforts.
“I want to live in a world where every single type of person can see themselves in a movie like this,” she said in the Vanity Fair interview. “There’s a lot of work to be done in that respect. I’d love to see a Disney warrior who — I don’t know, can I say this without getting in trouble? I don’t care — is openly in the LGBTQ community. I would love to see representation in terms of someone who maybe isn’t able-bodied. And I’m hopeful. We’ll see.”