Lena Waithe To Voice Disney’s First Openly LGBTQ+ Animated Character In Onward
Onward marks a historic step for Disney, featuring its first openly LGBTQ+ animated character, which will be voiced by Lena Waithe.
The House of Mouse isn’t a stranger to having LGBTQ+ characters in its films – however, they’re often so contrived or blink-and-you’ll-miss-it that it feels more an act of tokenism than genuine representation.
Pixar’s next film, Onward, is due to hit cinemas in March, and as well as promising to be one of the most magical outings yet, it also takes a bold, empowering leap.
Waithe, an openly gay US writer and actress known for Master of None and Ready Player One, stars alongside Tom Holland and Chris Pratt as Officer Specter, an openly gay Cyclops cop.
Waithe’s character comes into the movie around halfway in, when Ian (Holland) and Barley (Pratt) are driving recklessly in their beloved van, Guinevere, catching the eye of Specter and her sidekick Officer Gore (Ali Wong), who pull the boys over. After some magical hijinks and discussion of stress at home, the officer tells the brothers: ‘My girlfriend’s daughter got me pulling my hair out.’
The small but carefully employed scene comes hot on the heels of other more questionable ‘landmark’ moments of LGBTQ+ representation – for example, the ultra-quick same-sex kiss at the end of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
Commenting on the inception of the scene, Onward producer Kori Rae told Yahoo Entertainment: ‘It just kind of happened. The scene, when we wrote it, was kind of fitting and it opens up the world a little bit, and that’s what we wanted.’ The film’s director, Dan Scanlon, added: ‘It’s a modern fantasy world and we want to represent the modern world.’
The synopsis for Onward reads:
Two teenage elf brothers, Ian and Barley Lightfoot, go on an journey to discover if there is still a little magic left out there in order to spend one last day with their father, who died when they were too young to remember him.
As well as Waithe, Holland and Pratt, Octavia Spencer and Julia Louis-Dreyfus also pack out the glimmering voice ensemble.
It’s been a hit with critics, with UNILAD calling it ‘a beautifully animated love letter to the fantasy genre’, keeping Pixar’s ‘ridiculous track record for giving its films incredible emotional depth while also keeping them entertaining’.
Onward hits UK cinemas on March 6.