Vietnamese-American actress dons ao dai for Disney movie premiere

By Phuc Nguyen   March 6, 2021 | 09:32 pm PT
Kelly Marie Tran wore a traditional ao dai on the virtual red carpet event held for the premiere of Disney’s 'Raya and the Last Dragon.'

Tran, who lends her voice in the first Disney movie featuring a Southeast Asian princess, wore a black ao dai and khan dong (a kind of traditional gown) for the March 5 event.

This is the first time Tran wore an ao dai for an international cinema event.

"Playing the main role in Raya is an honor because I have been a Disney fan since I was a girl," said an emotional Tran who could not hold back her tears as she was congratulated by other Disney voice-over actresses like Ming-Na Wen (Mulan), Jonathan Groff (Frozen), Jodi Benson (The Little Mermaid).

Tran wears ao dai and khan dong on the red carpet. Photo courtesy of Disney.

Tran in an ao dai and khan dong on the virtual red carpet during the online premiere of Disney production "Raya and The Last Dragon." Photo courtesy of Disney.

Paige O’Hara, who has lent her voice for "Beauty and the Beast," said that Tran, like many other Disney princess, will be a good example for children all over the world.

Thai Nguyen, who designed Tran’s ao dai, said that the actress and he shared a passion for what they do and a strong love for Vietnamese culture.

"Imagine how I felt when she called and told me she wanted me to dress her for the premiere of "Raya and the Last Dragon"... And in an ao dai! Pride and excitement don't begin to cover how I feel about this truly special project," Nguyen wrote on his Facebook page.

In Disney’s latest animation production, Raya (voiced by Tran) is a hero living in Kumandra and in charge of finding the last dragon to save her people. The script is written by Adele Lim and Qui Nguyen, directed by Don Hall.

According to producer Osnat Shurer, it took them a year to check several locations in Lao, Myanmar, and Vietnam to find local culture, customs and traditions for "Raya and the Last Dragon."

Kelly Marie Tran (Vietnamese name Tran Loan), 32, began acting in 2011, mostly short films and television. She gained global prominence for her role as Rose Tico in the Star Wars sequels The Last Jedi (2017) and The Rise of Skywalker (2019).

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