A teenage girl by the name of Meilin Lee struggles to find the balance between being an obedient daughter and surrendering to the chaos of growing up. But with her overbearing mother Ming, she is forced to face a different reality than everyone else, especially when Mei finds herself turning into a giant red panda when she becomes too excited.
Disney Pixar’s Turning Red is a coming-of-age movie that focuses on friendships and other aspects present during teenage years.
Stream Turning Red exclusively on Disney+ March 11th!
Here’s the scoop on the cast of Disney Pixar’s Turning Red!
The Cast of Turning Red
Rosalie Chiang voices the dorky main female character, Meilin Lee. Rosalie also starred as the lead in an MFA thesis film, Soiled.
Hyein Park is behind the character Abby in Turning Red. She is also part of major projects including Soul and Toy Story 4.
Ava Morse is the voice behind the character Miriam. Her career as an actress has led her to participate in films including Ron’s Gone Wrong and Surprise Me!
Sandra Oh voices the overprotective mother of Meilin Lee. Besides playing the character Ming, she has also played Christina Yang in Grey’s Anatomy and Eve Polastri in the series, Killing Eve.
Maitreyi Ramakrishnan is the voice behind Priya. Her most well-known project is the teenage comedy series Never Have I Ever.
All of the characters in Turning Red have fun and interesting personalities. Ava Morse describes her character Miriam by revealing that “Miriam is the best friend that you could ever want. She’s funny, she’s always there for you. She’s a party animal. And she just always knows how to cheer you up when you’re down.”
Maitreyi also describes her character Priya by sharing that “Priya is pretty sarcastic, dry, um, very deadpan. Um, but you know what? She’s really cool. I think she’s one cool cat. And, yeah, she’s-she’s always down to clown, but always with a cool attitude.” Hyein reveals that “Abby’s like this little ball of energy. And very loving. Very passionate. But comes up a little too explosive at some times.”
Sandra talks about playing Ming by saying that “Mei’s mother, who is, I’d like to call her a hypervigilant, loving mother. Uh, and we basically go through this-this, uh, change in our relationship where, you know, a natural change between mothers and daughters when daughters have to, uh, become their own independent people.”
Rosalie describes her character, Meilin Lee as “a 13-year-old Chinese Canadian who’s confident, she’s ambitious, and she’s a little dorky and a bit of an overachiever.” Rosalie further explains that “she has-she puts so much value in her friendships…” as well as “her relationship with her mom.”
Meilin Lee is dealing with the problems that many people face when growing up and that aspect alone resonates with not only the audience but also the cast. Rosalie Chiang talks about the similarities between her character in Turning Red and her background as an Asian American.
Rosalie says “It’s like, there’s so many odd, like, really weird coincidence. First of all, my mom’s middle name is Ming.” She then says, “They-there’s no way they could’ve known that. That’s creepy. Um, my, um, my-my favorite animals are actually red pandas. Before the whole project even started, before I was introduced. But the main thing is that my mom actually calls me Mei-Mei before this project, cause Mei-Mei means little sister in Chinese.”
Turning Red is all about friendship so it’s no surprise that friendship is also important within the cast members’ lives. Sandra mentions friendship by saying, “You know, I-I-you know, I’m in my, well into my mid-life. And, um, actually, my best-you remind me-Miriam reminds me of my best friend, Margo. And so, I have relationships and friendships that are 40 years old.”
Sandra then comments on what she loves about the film, “it’s that precious time when you’re starting to figure out who you are when your friends become really, really important. You know, for me, the girls that I grew up within, like, Nepean, Ontario, um, we’re still all friends.”
Ava expresses her thoughts as a current high school student by saying, “it’s kind of a beautiful thing, um, cause everybody’s in that together, and just kind of, put it all into living their lives the best they can. And I think that’s great.” She also comments on the support from her friends, “I was really inspired by my own friend’s kind of putting them into Miriam herself, cause she is such a supportive, an amazing friend to, um, Mei-Mei and, um, the other girls.”
Hyein weighs on friendship in Turning Red by saying, “And the-the way this movie was very relatable for me is through all those aspects of, like, being goofy together as friends, where…I have those friends to just be myself, cry, or be super-goofy and be crazy, so.”
Maitreyi gives her thoughts on friendship in the film, “I love that we show, like, the importance of, you know, four young girls…like being supportive of each other just to show good female friendships.”
Mei’s character turning into a red panda might be fictional, but we can’t help to think what animals the cast would turn into when stressed or sad. Rosalie says, “An armadillo.” Sandra then comments and says, “I’m, like, something fuzzy.” Hyein weighs in saying, “Yeah. How you feel? ‘Cause I-I was about to say sea cucumber.” Ava talks about wanting to be a sloth, “Cause, like, they just get to kinda, like, chill.”
Different Time Period
The Disney Pixar film is set in the early 2000s and is paying homage to the 90’s babies. Many of the voice actors are younger and didn’t get to experience the quirks of the 90s until Turning Red. Maitreyi comments about her experience by saying, “The good-ol’ Sky Dome instead of the Rogers Centre. It was like, oh, oh God. Like, that’s a throwback. I mean, I’m 2001, so not a ’90s kid at all. But it was still really cool to see how it’s like, okay, this is where I grew up still.”
Ava then voices her thoughts, “Like, I have never been to Canada before. But, like, I feel like if, um, I was, I would’ve got to appreciate it much more. like, just seeing a different time period.”
Tiger Mom Moment
The voice actors recall moments in their life when they dealt with a tiger mom. Specifically, Sandra adds, “Oh, my whole life. I mean, I love my mom. And she’s a fierce, fierce person. Tiny. Tiny. But fierce.” Sandra also comments saying, “I think, with our mothers and with our Asian mothers that, um, it’s very, very difficult to satisfy them.”
Turning Red is more than just a 13-year-old girl transforming into a red panda but touches on the changes that teens go through, especially puberty. Rosalie reveals, “It’s such a messy and weird and awkward time that I literally went through when I was during the duration of recording for Pixar. And I think-I that-I hope people admire, um, what she goes through and how she deals with it.”
Watch Turning Red on Disney+ March 11th!
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