Disney‘s upcoming animated movie Strange World is breaking barriers for the company’s animation studio!
The new film, which stars the voices of Jake Gyllenhaal, Gabrielle Union and Jaboukie Young-White, and introduces fans to the first biracial, openly gay teen character in an animated Disney movie.
Jaboukie is actually the voice of the character, Ethan Clade, “a biracial, openly gay teenager who gets completely tongue-tied when he’s near his crush, Diazo,” according to Variety.
The directors and writer of the movie recently opened up about the character and his identity.
See what they said inside…
“I have a biracial family, so it was something that was easily relatable to me to [have] two people with very different backgrounds fall in love,” co-director and writer Qui Nguyen told Variety. “And now my kid walks both those lines of us — fully Asian, fully Jewish — and that was something I understood inherently.”
“His gayness is one part of him. He’s also bold and wildly empathetic, which is why he becomes sort of the conservationist in our film,” director Don Hall, who also directed Big Hero 6, Moana, and Raya and the Last Dragon, added. “Also, he’s impulsive as teenagers kind of are. So to us, he was just a flesh-and-blood, well-rounded character, and I think we can’t wait for the world to embrace him like we did.”
Jaboukie also dished on how the character of Ethan “sort of resembled” him.
“I thought that it was pretty cool, just in the fact that Don and Qui, the creators, really have a commitment to just reflecting what our world looks like and what reality looks like, in a way that isn’t heavy-handed or forced,” he shared. “It’s kind of just the way it is.”
Dennis Quaid, who voices Jaeger, Ethan’s grandfather, said that he was “really glad that the script didn’t point to [his sexuality] and that “it wasn’t explained or this or that, or have to go through the coming out thing — and that’s okay. I think we’re well past that as a culture.”
If you missed it, check out the latest trailer for the upcoming movie.
Strange World is set to be released in theaters this coming Wednesday (November 23).
Disney and Pixar‘s last release Lightyear featured a same-sex couple.