‘Raya’ May Have Been Inspired by Thai Celeb ‘Yaya’

Yaya and Raya. Image: Disney Thailand / Facebook

BANGKOK — The main character in the upcoming Disney film about a fictional Southeast Asian princess may have been inspired by Thai celeb Urassaya “Yaya” Sperbund.

The revelation was teased in a series of comments on an Instagram post by the crew of “Raya and the Last Dragon,” including Dean Wellins, who directed the film until a new team took over in August 2020.

“Big fan of Yaya. Don’t tell her she inspired the character design,” Wellins wrote in a reply to a drawing by the film’s head of story, Fawn Veerasunthorn, who is a Thai national.

Fawn drew the image of Yaya dressed as Raya, leaning against a tuktuk. Yaya is also set to voice the film’s character in the Thai dub.


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A post shared by Fawn Veerasunthorn (@fawnv)

“DEAN, CAN WE SAY THIS OUT LOUD???” Fawn wrote. “I love that we’re sharing this.”

Although the comments can no longer be found, Twitter users and the Thai media have screencapped the exchange.

“Raya and the Last Dragon” is set to release in Thai theaters March 4.

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