In Disney and Pixar’s all-new original feature film TURNING RED, 13-year-old Mei Lee “poofs” into a giant panda when she gets too excited (which for a teenager, is practically ALWAYS). At a recent early press day, I had the chance to talk with Director Domee Shi and Producer Lindsey Collins and learn some Fun Facts about TURNING RED as well as learn about the development and making of the film after screening the first 30 minutes.
Fun Facts about TURNING RED
TURNING RED and BAO short share the same Director
Director Domee Shi is also the director of the 2017 short film BAO.
TURNING RED Features the First all-female leadership team at Pixar
Producer Lindsey Collins said she's had the chance to work with some great women over the years, so she was thrilled that TURNING RED is the first time Pixar has had an all-female leadership team on a feature film.
TURNING RED is an “Asian tween fever dream” inspired by her own childhood relationship
Domee Shi's own relationship with her mother inspired TURNING RED. Shi was born in Chongqing, China, and immigrated to Toronto, Canada, at the age of 2. Like Mei Lee in the movie, Shi is also an only child. She was always very close with her parents, especially her mother.
TURNING RED is inspired by the universal struggle of growing up, and figuring out, how to handle that push-pull dynamic of how to honor your parents while staying true to yourself. For Mei Lee in the movie, the red panda is the magical spark that sets off the internal conflict within herself.
Shi wanted to explore the nuances of an Asian parent-child relationship in dealing with change, and intergenerational conflict, and how it can shape who we become. Shi calls it an “Asian tween fever dream.”
TURNING RED is set in multicultural Toronto in the 2000s
Shi chose the early 2000s in Toronto as the backdrop of this coming-of-age story. Not just because she was intimately familiar with it, but because it was the height of teen girl pop music mania with boy bands and other pop music idols and the simplistic pop culture era of flip phones, CDs, jelly bracelets, and MySpace & other early social media. She loved the multicultural aspects of Toronto: the mosaic of different cultures, languages, and traditions in one city.
Middle school yearbooks helped to shape the film
Producer Lindsey Collins shared that part of the development process early on included the crew bringing in their old middle school yearbooks and sharing stories of awkward moments in their lives. Those who were parents shared their bad parenting moments. “As a team, we just really tried to be real with one another about our daily failures, and our daily successes,” Collins said.
Rosalie Chiang was only supposed to do the temporary voice-over for Mei Lee.
The team loved 12-year-old Rosalie Chiang's temporary voice-over work for the part of Mei Lee so much they kept her on as the permanent voice cast of Mei Lee.
Mei Lee had a different name originally.
While they were developing the film and no one knew the real name yet, Mei Lee's character was known as “Fei-Fei” as Rosalie Chiang recorded the temporary voice work.
About TURNING RED
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! Directed by Academy Award winner Domee Shi (Pixar short “Bao”) and produced by Lindsey Collins TURNING RED releases on March 11, 2022.
Director: Domee Shi
Producer: Lindsey Collins
Voice Cast: Rosalie Chiang, Sandra Oh
- Director Sam Raimi Brings Horror to the MCU with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness - May 4, 2022
- Everything You Need to Know About Sox the Robot Cat from LIGHTYEAR - April 21, 2022
- Casting the Perfect LIGHTYEAR - April 21, 2022