Kelly Marie Tran will lead the cast of Raya and the Last Dragon.
The 31-year-old actress — who rose to fame in Star Wars: The Last Jedi — is to voice the titular character in the Disney animation movie, taking over from Cassie Steele.
This casting means Tran — whose parents were refugees from Vietnam who fled after the Vietnam War — will become the first Southeast Asian American to lead a Disney animated film.
The entire 400-strong crew on the movie — who include script writers Qui Nguyen and Adele Lim, and directors Don Hall and Carlos López Estrada — are working on the project from home amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Walt Disney Animation Studios' Chief Creative Officer Jennifer Lee told Entertainment Weekly: "As filmmakers, Don and Carlos bring a combination of animation know-how and emotional storytelling to Raya and the Last Dragon, bringing our fantasy adventure to surprising, original, and dynamic heights.
"They both saw the potential for this film and had a strong vision for the story, especially for our lead character, played by the wonderfully talented Kelly Marie Tran.
"And no small feat, directors Don and Carlos, writers Qui and Adele, and the entire crew of 400 Disney Animation artists are making this film together, while separated and working from home."
López Estrada has admitted he and Hall were stunned into silence after watching Tran's audition.
He said: "I'm never going to forget it. 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.' "
Hall added: "She is Raya — just her buoyancy and her positivity, but yet there's a strength as well to Kelly and the character."
The motion picture tells the story of fearless warrior Raya who attempts to save fantasy land Kumandra from evil.
Awkwafina was previously announced in the part of water dragon Sisu, who is able to transform into a human.
In April, Disney confirmed Raya and the Last Dragon, had been pushed back to March 12, 2021. It was originally slated for November 25. — BANG
Photo: TPG News/Click Photos, Disney