Not only will Kelly be the first actress of Southeast Asian descent to lead a Disney animated movie, but Raya will be Disney Animation Studios’ first movie inspired by Southeast Asia.
Director Carlos López Estrada said that he wasn’t a believer in a magical audition moment until he saw Kelly’s audition. After her first voice recording session, he and co-director Don Hall were stunned. “I’m never going to forget it,” he told EW. “I think [Don and I] rode in the car together, and we were quiet, looking at each other and nodding our heads just being like, ‘Yep, yep, yep. Kelly’s perfect.’”