Disney’s 2021 release Raya and the Last Dragon is storming the boards with an impressive 96 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes at the time of writing. Critics are praising the film’s commitment to diversity, with The Guardian arguing it’s “proof that Disney needs to focus on moving forward rather than continuing to look back,” while RogerEbert.com calls it “an ambitious family film that will work for all ages, and one that never talks down to its audience.”
Raya and the Last Dragon initially made headlines thanks to its impressive and inclusive voice cast which includes a whole host of big-name Asian stars, such as Gemma Chan, Benedict Wong, Daniel Dae Kim, and Awkwafina. And, of course, Star Wars‘ Kelly Marie Tran leads the charge as Raya.
As for the voice of the wise Virana? There’s a good chance you know the actor behind this Raya and the Last Dragon character; Virana’s voice seems so familiar for a reason.
Sandra Oh is a stalwart of the screen
As IMDb notes, Virana is voiced by none other than Sandra Oh. The award-winning actor made her debut all the way back in 1989, and has been a fixture on our screens ever since. She played the vice principal who wryly suggested Mandy Moore’s cheerleader send her destroyed uniform out for dry cleaning in The Princess Diaries, lit up Grey’s Anatomy as Dr. Cristina Yang, played the titular character opposite Jodie Comer in the barnstorming series Killing Eve—the list goes on! Raya isn’t the first time Oh has ventured into the world of voice acting either, with the Canadian-American star having previously lent her pipes to American Dad and She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, among others.
Speaking to Elle Canada last year, Oh, who is of Korean descent, advised she’s proud of the fact that at this stage in her career she can turn down work that doesn’t serve a greater purpose. “I decided that I’m only going to play characters that are essential to the plot, that conduct the narrative and therefore can’t be cut out,” she explained. The Grey’s Anatomy star added, “I am specifically interested in roles that explore a character’s race. Because I can, and because I want our conversations to eventually move to a place that recognizes it’s important.” She heralded younger actors who don’t feel the need to “flatten” their accents to make it in Hollywood. Evidently, Raya is part of the bigger story, too.
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