Disney's new animated movie, "Wish," celebrates 100 years of storytelling through its main protagonist, Asha. Played by Oscar winner Ariana DeBose, Asha wishes upon a star, and what ensues is an adventurous journey that captures hope, joy, and the power of dreams.
The talented creative team stepped into the Storytellers Spotlight to share the essence and magic behind Disney's new animated musical, 'Wish.'
"At the very beginning, getting lost in storytelling and fairy tales," said Jennifer Lee, the film's director and Chief Creative Officer for Disney Animation. "I think I didn't quite know that that's where I could go. But I was always daydreaming. Disney was a big part of my childhood."
Production Designer Griselda Sastrawiata-Lemay added, "What inspired me to be a storyteller is watching a lot of Disney movies growing up. I absolutely loved Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. Sleeping Beauty has always been one of my favorite all time because Briar Rose wears a great dress, and my name is Gris, which means grey. So I always feel that since my princess."
"When I was a kid, my grandfather would have me and my cousin sit in the rug and tell us fairy tales," said Juan Pablo Reyes, a producer on the movie. "My first memory in a movie theater was 'Beauty and the Beast.' So that's when it like clicked that there were people making this fabulous thing that I had just watched in theater."
"We grew up watching Dumbo," said Fawn Veerasunthorn, the co-director of the film. "And to me, when I watched Dumbo, it didn't matter if I didn't understand the language or not. And I was fascinated by this art form of animation that can tell so much story, that it didn't matter if I grew up in Thailand and didn't know anything about the life of Dumbo."
Veerasunthorn feels that "Wish" is a love letter to the films about their childhood.
It's a film that celebrates the power of wishing; the hope and passion that drives you to chase after your dreams.
"It's recognizing that the bigger the wish, sometimes the harder the journey," said Lee. "And it's sort of celebrating that perseverance of character."
At the heart of the story is a girl who realizes her dream is so big, that she did not know how to go about it.
Sastrawiata-Lemay says the story is universal and embraces individuality. Her focus on the film was costume design.
"So the inspiration behind Asha's costume is her personality," she said. "She is a bright young woman who is very hopeful."
Reyes feels the film's star, Asha, is relatable and unapologetically herself and hopes those character traits resonate with the audience.
Lee says the character, Star, brings hope and reminds you of possibility.
"Star represents this creative energy that we have within all of us," said Veerasunthorn. "So we want it, Star, to be able to bring out the best in each person."
"It's important for all of us to have a voice, right? Because I think that's what makes storytelling so rich in animation. It's hundreds of people putting so much effort and a little piece of themselves into this," said Reyes, who was born in Guadalajara, Mexico. "I think that's what the world requires all of our voices and perspectives to be complete."
It was very important for the team to celebrate the power of the musical fairytale and equally create a movie that was forward thinking and into the next century of Disney.
From the film's look and feel to the subtle nods throughout the film, "Wish" is a celebration of the studio's centennial anniversary.
"One of the biggest parts of 'Wish' for us is stories that really help fight against hopelessness that give you a sense of hope," said Lee. "That gives you a sense of possibility, wonder joy, the playfulness of that and it's foundational to Disney."
"Wish" debuts in theaters on Nov. 22.
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