When it was first announced at D23 last yearRaya and the Last Dragon was said to star Cassie Steele and Awkwafina in the two title roles. Almost exactly one year to the day of its introduction, Entertainment Weekly has a big update on Raya and the Last Dragon — including the news that Steele has been replaced by Star Wars’ Kelly Marie Tran in the role of Raya.

Raya and the Last Dragon co-director Carlos López Estrada told EW that Tran absolutely blew the crew away during her audition:

We had this little dramatic moment; it was written as a few lines. And I remember her going, ‘Hey, I have some ideas because this is normally how I would say this or I have some questions. Do you mind if I tried it a little bit differently?’ She went for it, improvised for a minute, and had us all in tears. We changed the scene and reblocked the animation so that it would follow what Kelly did that day because she just clicked on something that was so much bigger than anything we had imagined.

Back at D23, the movie was described as the story of “Raya, a lone warrior from the fantasy kingdom of Kumandra who teams up with a crew of misfits in her quest to find the Last Dragon and bring light and unity back to their world.” Awkwafina plays Sisu, the Last Dragon.

Raya and the Last Dragon is scheduled to open in theaters on March 12, 2021. During the pandemic, the movie is being made by a “crew of 400 Disney Animation artists” all working remotely from home.

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