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Here's Why Disney Replaced the Original 'Raya & The Last Dragon' Actress with Kelly Marie Tran

Here's Why Disney Replaced the Original 'Raya & The Last Dragon' Actress with Kelly Marie Tran

Did you know that Kelly Marie Tran wasn’t the original choice to play Raya in the new Disney film Raya and the Last Dragon?

Disney originally announced that Degrassi actress Cassie Steele would be playing the role and she even made an appearance on stage at D23 in 2019 alongside Awkwafina and the film’s creative team. (See photos from that event in the gallery)

Not much was heard about the project for a full year after that appearance, but then news broke that Kelly would be replacing Cassie in the movie.

The film’s producer Osnat Shurer recently spoke about what led to the casting change.

Click inside for more details…

Raya and the Last Dragon still photo

“There was a key change to Raya’s character. The original [voice actress], of course she’s wonderful, and she was a perfect fit for Raya’s character then, and then the character changed a lot, and so it was necessary to shift voice,” Shurer told Cinema Blend. “And Kelly just embodies Raya. The character shifted and then it shifted even more, as that work together starts to happen between the voice and the writer, the animators and it takes on a whole different life. It’s just one of those creative change moments.”

Shurer added about Kelly, “There’s a wit, a warmth, a strength, and then, a vulnerability that still had power behind it, that all combine together… Kelly brings all that together in one bundle of a super-talented actor. She’s a producer’s dream.”

For those that don’t know, Kelly previously worked with Disney on the Star Wars movies!

Raya and the Last Dragon is now playing in theaters and on Disney+ with Premier Access.

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