Students react to representation in Disney

Disney has always been known for their amazing stories and making people feel connected and understood. They include the depth and hardships that life can have on a person, and still lets them live their happily ever after in the end. Some people feel as though they were never fully represented until Disney brought in movies that showed people who looked like them and went through the same struggles as them. Allowing them to feel that love and acceptance in worldwide media can have a big impact on many people throughout the world, even the ones in our community. 

“I don’t really like any of the live action movies, I’m more worried about the fact that they’re not doing anything new and reusing old material,” said senior Carly Houston, “It’s not really representative if it’s not something new and makes fans compare them to the old material. If anything it’s not really adding anything to Disney.”

 Houston brings up a valid point that some people don’t think about. Brands are adding inclusivity but not adding all parts of the characters’ culture into a movie. Disney has to make sure to fully show all the important parts and make these characters feel like real people. Adding that classic flare or magic that they are known for will make so many people feel properly represented and understood. It can make them feel less alienated and have that recognition that people of color deserve. Since Disney is a part of mainstream media, this will help to have others understand their cultural background and it will show how every person has different values and struggles.

“I feel like these movies are going to make a lot of people of color happy because their children are now getting the representation of themselves. I think this would make kids more confident in themselves,” said senior Madison Johnson. 

Disney has stepped up in inclusivity with movies like “Encanto” and “Raya and the Last Dragon,” which have leading roles of Latin American and Asian characters. Upcoming movies featuring people of color include “Snow White,” “The Little Mermaid,” and “Peter Pan & Wendy.” These movies feature Ariel being played by African-American singer Halle Bailey and lead Snow White being portrayed by a Colombian actress Rachel Zegler. We also have actress Yara Shahidi playing Tinkerbelle in the new “Peter Pan & Wendy” as well as Indigenous actress Alyssa Wapanatâhk playing Tiger Lily. These were originally animated movies that will be revived as live action movies. These will be the new classics that the young generations can look up to.

“I remember seeing the reaction of little black girls and young black women to the trailer of the new “The Little Mermaid” and seeing the joy and tears of happiness from these little girl’s faces made me so proud of my community. Seeing people in the black community being represented by such a huge trademark shows that our community is growing in the media and in a positive way,” said senior Amina Seck Soudani.

With constant media coverage and cartoons of younger generations being shown as white or white passing, it can definitely make people of color feel underappreciated and like less important individuals. No person should ever feel like that, especially children, but Black and Asian voices have needed our help the most in recent years. Movements during Covid-19 such as Black Lives Matter and Stop the Asian Hate have boosted their voices. The media has made sure to fight for their rights and safety as people and to celebrate their beautiful cultures. 

At the end of the day, D23 fans think that the overall inclusivity in the recent and upcoming years is a positive thing. It leaves all fans excited to see what these actors have up their sleeves, and what Disney can do to make so many more cultures feel celebrated and accepted into mass and mainstream media.