Where were you at the turn of the new millennium? If you were alive, especially a teen or tween in the early 2000, it was an exciting time! I was actually a teen in that era, so to finally see a film especially an animated one set in this time period made me really excited! Pixar’s Turning Red is set in the nostalgic era of Y2K and it is the coming of age tell we all need to see!

Disney and Pixar’s Turning Red introduces Mei Lee (voice of Rosalie Chiang), a confident, dorky 13-year-old torn between staying her mother’s dutiful daughter and the chaos of adolescence. Her protective, if not slightly overbearing mother, Ming (voice of Sandra Oh), is never far from her daughter—an unfortunate reality for the teenager. And as if changes to her interests, relationships and body weren’t enough, whenever she gets too excited (which is practically ALWAYS), she “poofs” into a giant red panda!


Two different panels of cast members and creatives behind the film got together to discuss Turning Red ahead of its release. The first panel was made up of the movie’s stars, including Sandra Oh (voice of “Ming”), Rosalie Chiang (voice of “Mei Lee”), Ava Morse (voice of “Miriam”), Hyein Park (voice of “Abby”), and Maitreyi Ramakrishnan (voice of “Priya”). The second panel during the press conference was filled with the film’s creators: director Domee Shi, producer Lindsey Collins, and Julia Cho. Arriving exclusively on Disney+ on March 11, Turning Red, directed by Domee Shi (director of the 2019 Oscar-winning short Bao), makes history as the first Pixar film to feature a lead Asian character and the first film to be solely directed by a Chinese Canadian woman.


Shi: “Yeah, uh, yeah, the inspiration behind Turning Red just came from my own life growing up in the early aughts.  Chinese Canadian, dorky, sassy, nerdy girl who thought she had everything under control.  She was her mom’s good little girl, and then boom, puberty hit, and I was bigger.  I was hairier.  Was hungry all the time.  I was a hormonal mess.  And I was fighting with my mom, like, every other day.”

Cho: “Well, it was really just a joy, to be able to embrace all of my own self in the writing of this, and having a partner, two partners, who loved it.  You know, we would always encourage, I think, each other to just bring more and more of ourselves into it.  Um, and one of the things that Domee and I really connected on, I think pretty early, was the fact that we both grew up really tight with our moms.  I mean, I think in a way, that was just beyond culture, beyond anything.  It was just the way we personally just developed these relationships with two women who are just very strong in very different ways.  Um, and I think that for us, the story was also, in just that sense of that transition from going from a girl whose mom, like, is your whole world, to a-a young woman who’s trying to learn to be independent, and how scary that is.”


Morse on Miriam: “Miriam is the best friend that you could ever want. She’s funny, she’s always there for you. She’s a party animal. And she just always knows how to cheer you up when you’re down.”

Ramakrishnan on Priya: “Priya is pretty sarcastic, dry, um, very deadpan. Um, but you know what? She’s really cool. I think she’s one cool cat.”

Park on Abby: “Um, Abby’s like this little ball of energy. And very loving. Very passionate. But comes up a little too explosive at some times. Um, and I would say she loves her friends so much, especially when they’re fluffy.”

Oh on Ming: “Oh, I play Ming, uh, Mei’s mother, who is, I’d like to call her a hypervigilant, loving mother.  Uh, and we basically go through this-this, uh, change in our relationship where, you know, a natural change between mothers and daughters when daughters have to, uh, become their own independent people.”

Chang on Mei: “She is a 13-year-old Chinese Canadian who’s confident, she’s ambitious, and she’s a little dorky and a bit of an overachiever. But, um, she has-she puts so much value in her friendships and her relationship with her mom.  And in this movie, she goes through these huge changes and she’s dealing with this.”


I don’t recall many animated films that have a stack of feminine hygiene products in them. We can laugh about it, but dare I say it wasn’t that too long ago that wouldn’t be something you’d see in a Pixar or Disney film. Were you cautious as to what degree you would show that type of thing or was it pretty much were going forward and someone will let us know… or we’ll know ourselves, if we go a little too far?

Shi: That’s a really good question. Well, the initial idea for the movie was a girl going through magical puberty. What does that look like? And I think that for us, that was our compass. A lot of the creative leaders on the show were 13-year-old girls at one point in their lives. So that really helped. We had a huge library of memories and awkward and embarrassing experiences to draw from to tell this story.

And for me, I felt like if it was something that made the whole room cringe and go “Ah!” people that were never teen girls could still all share in this collective cringe. That told me there was some gold in this idea that we just had to put in the movie. And the whole message of the story is that Mei, the main character, embraces change in all its furry, messy, smelly, unexpected forms. And I think that was the same case for us on the crew. We also learned how to embrace mess in that way.

Collins: Definitely that. I’ll share an anecdote… in I think our second draft of the script, or maybe it was the first draft, we submitted it for notes from everybody. There was a scene in there that you saw the pads and talking about periods. And then there were other scenes where the girls would just be talking about [boy band] 4*Town and how much they were crushing on them. And there’s, “Oh my gosh, I saw nipple. Did you see nipple?” We submitted this script, and we all were kind of taking silent bets of like, “Are we going to get a note on the nipple line?”

…And so, the challenge for us was just making sure that whatever we were doing always felt real and genuine, and not just gratuitous. And not soft pedaling. We tried to find a sweet spot.


Oh: “And so what I love about this film through friendship, and also music, it’s that precious time when you’re starting to figure out who you are when your friends become really, really important.  You know, for me, the girls that I grew up with in, like, Nepean, Ontario, um, we’re still all friends.”

Park: “Pixar is already, like, they have a very wide, younger audience.  And I feel like people, like I grew up watch a bunch of Pixar’s movies, and, um, now this is for like a new generation of people who can-they’re-they can kinda first see what a good, solid, female friendship is like.  And being able to be a part of that, I mean, like, I am honored.  Like, that is such a cool thing to be able to say.”


Collins: “4*town as a-as an idea, or as kind of, like, a joke sort of was in-even before the first draft of the script, it was a way that, um, I think there was a very early kind of just, eh, like, fake scene basically, between-that was written between Ming and-and Mei, um, that just kind of helped illustrate what their dynamic was.”

“And so, all the sudden, it started to feel like this really great way to-to kind of ground this kind of fantastical movie in a very kind of real world 13-year-old stake.  So-and we got to create our own boy band. So there was also just a selfish desire, I think, um, across the-across the team of like, ‘Oh, my gosh, yes, an animated Pixar boy band.  Yes, please.’”

Turning Red will stream exclusively on Disney+ on March 11, 2022 #TurningRed


About the Blogger - Kiwi the Beauty

Kiwi is the free spirited blogger and content creator of As a digital influencer, she produces creative inspiration around beauty, lifestyle, media and travel leisure. Her life mantra is to make manifesting fun! When she’s not blogging, she is eating trendy hipster food, carrying crystals, making it rain at her local farmer's market and binge brunching. Follow her on her blog and social media at + @kiwithebeauty

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