Fierce female roles have always existed in Hollywood, but as the industry sees more female directors and producers, there has been a recent influx of more powerful female characters on both big and small screens. Even Disney princesses have evolved beyond those waiting on their Prince Charming to make their lives better.
Kelly Marie Tran in “Raya and the Last Dragon”: This Disney film stirred a bit of controversy with its casting, but the warrior princess is indeed that — a warrior. Inspired by Southeast Asian cultures, the animated film offers the latest Disney heroine whose spirit evokes similarly strong-willed characters like Mulan and Merida.
Tran voices Raya, who sets out on a quest to save her people. In real life, Tran is no less fierce, though her battles have been mostly against racism and trolls. As the first Asian American actor cast in a lead role in a “Star Wars” movie, she was subjected to an onslaught of online harassment and bullying that eventually forced her to abandon social media altogether.
“(Raya) sees the world in this doe-eyed idyllic way, and then the world sort of breaks, and it changes the way in which she interacts with the world,” Tran told The Hollywood Reporter. “That was my way (into the character). I’ve definitely in the past viewed the world through rose-colored glasses, and now I feel like I’m in the back, smoking a cigarette, (saying), ‘I’ve seen things.'”
Queen Latifah in “The Equalizer”: The actress/singer/rapper stars as single mom Robyn McCall in the CBS reboot, which this time features a Black woman as the under-the-radar guardian angel who has all types of skills to aid those in need.
No one is better suited to discuss the change in Hollywood than the show’s executive producer, Debra Martin Chase.
She is the first African American woman to produce a feature film that grossed more than $100 million (“Courage Under Fire” starring Denzel Washington and Meg Ryan) and the first African American female producer to sign an overall deal with a major studio.