When you look at Strange World, it’s different from Walt Disney’s other animated films, and not just because of its “strange” locations. Instead, what immediately stands out is how diverse the Clade family looks.
The film follows the Clade family, a legendary family of explorers. Searcher Clade (Jake Gyllenhaal) is the patriarch of his interracial family, which includes his Black wife, Meridian Clade (Gabrielle Union), who is also an excellent pilot, their son 16-year-old son mixed-race and openly gay son Ethan (Jaboukie Young-White) who is also struggling to tell his male friend how he feels about him romantically. To cap it off, they also have a three-legged dog named Legend.
It’s one of those rare Disney films that checks all boxes flawlessly regarding inclusion and representation. Speaking exclusively with Cassius Life, we asked the film’s cast and crew about that very topic and why it was so crucial to the film.
Director Don Hall Says Inclusion & Representation Is Essential To Strange World’s Story
“Well, I feel like it’s essential because I feel like as the person who’s generating the idea, generally at the beginning, it is top of mind. I feel like we make movies for everybody,” Director Don Hall begins. “We want everybody to come see these films and to see themselves reflected up on the screen. So it starts very early on with just that desire, just that simple desire for as much diversity and inclusion as we can have because our audience is everyone. So it’s in the DNA of the film.”
Director/Co-Writer Qui Nguyen added, “And I would say coming in a year after Jon [Lin] started working on it, his first doodles, he had already fleshed out a complete poster for Strange World before we had any designs made yet, and it was this set of characters. They looked like this. This was the family. So when he says it was down to the very first day, Ethan was Ethan, Meridian was Meridian, Searcher, Jaeger. The only addition was Legend.”
The Film’s Representation & Inclusion Attracted Jaboukie Young-White To The Film
“I think the thing that attracted me to this film is the fact that it is just a reflection of the world that we live in right now,” Young-White begins. “I think that that was beautiful in a way that just felt effortless, the same way that Don and Qui did with Big Hero Six. It’s just a given in the work that they do. So that was really exciting.”
“Yeah, and not pointing to anything. It’s just letting it be. That’s what we’re aiming for, isn’t it?” Dennis Quaid, who plays Searcher Clade’s dad and Ethan’s legendary grandfather Yaeger Clade added.
Strange World is playing now in theaters.
Photo: Walt Disney Animation / Strange World
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