Disney’s D23 Expo shows no signs of disappointing fans as they continue to roll out one exciting news story after the other. During the live action presentation, J.J Abrams, director of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, introduced Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong’o as “apparently someone who is legally required to be in every Disney movie.” Walt Disney has set a new a new bar in terms of diversity and has introduced Nyong’o as its newest star. Lupita will have quite the heavy duty line-up in upcoming releases.
The Oscar winner’s Instagram has left no doubt would about the fact that Lupita truly enjoyed her time at the star-studded event. The panel was titled “Worlds, Galaxies, and Universes: Live Action at The Walt Disney Studios,” and Disney debuted fan favorites from the Marvel and Star Wars franchise, the remake of The Jungle Book, and newcomers like The Queen of Katwe and Moana.
Nyong’o will actually be pulling triple duty on the Disney roster, and she promoted her roles in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Jungle Book, and The Queen of Katwe. Disney seems to be taking steps to make their franchise a far more culturally and globally diverse one with the Polynesian Moana and the Dia de Los Muertos-themed Coco. In fact, Moana will have its own diversified star in the form of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, whose cultural heritage is half Samoan and half black. Jon Favreau is the director of this new Jungle Book starring Nyong’o, and the screening is said to have been quite the hit. Lupita will be the voice of Mowgli’s wolf mother, Raksha. The event also featured the movie’s unknown 10-year-old star Neel Sethi, who will voice Mowgli.
Star Wars took a lot of flack for the lack of diversity when they first released a poster showcasing the stars, but after this panel, things look a lot more promising. Though Nyongo’s role in both Star Wars: The Force Awakens and The Jungle Book will only feature her voice, The Queen of Katwe will see Lupita in a spotlight performance. Vanity Fair highlighted the fact that this will actually be Lupita Nyong’o first “major spotlight since her Oscar-winning turn in 12 Years a Slave.”
The Queen of Katwe, tells the tale of a 12-year-old girl, Phiona Mutesi, from rural Uganda who rises from her poverty-stricken home to become a prominent champion chess player in the international chess circuit. The film is based on a true story and co-stars David Oweloyo and is directed by Mira Nair. Nyongo will play the role of the young girl’s mother.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens has a release date of December 18, while The Jungle Book will be in theaters April 15, 2016. The Queen of Katwe thus far has no release date.
One thing is certain: Disney is making all the right moves with Lupita Nyong’o being the queen of the D23 Expo and being so prominent in its spectacular line-up. We look forward to seeing Disney make more projects with diversified casts in the future.
[Photo Courtesy of Alberto E. Rodriguez/ Getty Images]