A film coming out in November is being lauded by Asian and Pacific Americans for its diversity of voices, while another which came out this month is being panned.
Following on the success of its film Big Hero 6 starring Ryan Potter, Daniel Henney and Jamie Chung, Disney is following up with Moana.
Both animated films feature Asian themes and were cast with many Asian and Pacific American actors playing the voices.
Moana which comes out in November is set in the Pacific Islands and features young Hawaiian native Auli’i Cravalho and Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson along side of her. Johnson’s mother is Samoan American.
On the flip side, Kubo and the Two Strings from Laika/Focus has been criticized for the lack of diversity in its casting despite being set in Japan.
The producers chose to go with Matthew McConaughey, Charlize Theron, Rooney Mara ,Ralph Fiennes and with Irish-born teen actor Art Parkinson in the featured role.
There are several Asians in the film, but all play secondary roles. Those actors include George Takei, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Minae Noji, Alpha Takahashi and Ken Takemoto.
“There are so many Asian American actors these days. It just makes me wonder why they didn’t just go with one of them,” Gene Luen Yang, a two-time National Book Award told the Washington Post.
The Media Action Network for Asian Americans was also critical of Kubo’s casting.
“The critical conversation around diversity is one that Laika cares very deeply about,” “Kubo” director Travis Knight said in a statement. He pointed to the multiculturalism of the company’s employees.
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