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Turning Red Director Domee Shi Explains The Importance Of Accurate Asian Representation - Exclusive

"Turning Red" exclusively hits Disney+ on March 11, and director Domee Shi is very excited for audiences to finally see the movie. "Turning Red" follows 13-year-old Mei, a Chinese Canadian teen living in Toronto in the early 2000s. Mei has a pretty normal life for the most part, from her overbearing mom to her obsession with the boyband 4*Town to her diehard group of best friends. However, Mei's life gets flipped on its head when she starts turning into a giant red panda. 

Shi, who also directed the Pixar short film "Bao," based some of "Turning Red" on her own experiences. On seeing moments from her own life portrayed onscreen, Shi told Looper during an exclusive interview with herself and producer Lindsey Collins, "Oh, first it was horrifying to relive those memories, but then it's very ... It's almost therapeutic. Now I can laugh at it because enough time has passed, and it adds this other level of uniqueness and authenticity to the movie, which is super awesome." She continued, "It was definitely a rollercoaster of emotion, going through in my memories, all of the moments when I've ever been horribly embarrassed or stressed out, but that's what makes a good movie."

Looper also asked the director of "Turning Red" why she wanted to to make sure that "Turning Red" featured accurate Asian representation.

Domee Shi felt 'a lot of responsibility'

Director Domee Shi felt some degree of pressure in bringing "Turning Red" to the screen, particularly because the story features Pixar's first Asian lead character. Discussing "Turning Red," Shi told Looper, "I've had a lot of responsibility in telling this story, but also a lot of excitement too. I feel like films, they open you up and introduce the audience into a world, sometimes that they don't know much about. This is my opportunity to introduce non-Asian audiences to the very specific life of this quirky, 13-year-old Chinese Canadian girl."

Revealing the key moments she wanted to include in "Turning Red," Shi said, "With this movie, we really wanted to touch on this universal theme of growing up and dealing with changes in your body and your relationship with your mom and your friends, but tell it in a culturally specific way, which makes it unique and memorable and interesting. You can see that in all of the details of Mei's family temple, of her household, of her everyday life with her mom, making dumplings and watching soap operas on TV." Viewers are going to love getting to know Mei, both as a red panda and as a teenager. 

"Turning Red" is streaming exclusively on Disney+ starting March 11, 2022.