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MediaOC Interview: OPEN CHEST with Cast From Mira, Royal Detective

March 17, 2020by Shukri Kayeh0

This week I’m pleased to dedicate my first episode of 2020, to the launch of a groundbreaking Disney series called Mira, Royal Detective. This is the first time that a North American created animation series is centered around a South Asian character that to a girl with an all South Asian star-studded cast. Talent cast includes Hannah Simone, Aasif Mandvi, Freida Pinto and Kal Penn but to name a few. With Mira being played by relative newcomer Leela Ladnier, daughter of long time actress and a dear friend Kavi Ladnier. 

The series targets the 2-7 year old age demo and is premiering this Friday March the 20th at 11AM on the Disney Channel and 7pm on Disney Jr. It will also have a sneak peek that same day on Disney Channel India followed by a series premiere on Sunday March the 22nd. The show is set in the magical Indian inspired land of Jalpur where it introduces the central character Mira as a commoner who is appointed as royal detective by the Queen. Following its premiere in the US and India, the series will roll out worldwide to an estimated 160 countries. 

Courtesy of Disney Junior

Each episode is comprised of two 11 minute stories that celebrate the cultures and customs of India by incorporating food, fashion, language and art. Reflecting their importance in Indian culture, music and dance play an integral role also with each episode featuring at least one original song and dance number that showcases the diversity of the culture. 

Disney will also be launching a full product line featuring dolls, playsets and more and the line is set to release this fall. I had the opportunity to speak with some of the cast members about the series. Why it’s so groundbreaking and how impactful its showcase of South Asian culture could be on future generations worldwide. I chatted with Leela Ladnier, Aasif Mandvi and Hannah Simone about their involvement with the series so stick around for more on that next. Read on . . .      

LEELA LADNIER. . .

 

Leela Ladnier. Photo Courtesy of Showbiz India TV.

Hey Leela! How are you sweetheart?

Hi, good, how are you?

I am good, thank you so much. Just a little off the side I know your mom extremely well so please say hi to her from me.

I will.

I’m really really excited about having you on my show. First of all, I’ve got to ask you, how did you get the role?

So my mom’s voiceover agent actually reached out to her and asked if she knew any South Asian kids that could sing and she said my daughter can! So, I went in for an audition and I didn’t really think much of the project, I just thought of the cool opportunity to gain more experience in the business, but after I got the call back I actually started to think and realize that this is a first of its kind project that would be so amazing to be a part of. And then I obviously got the job and it’s just been a dream ever since.

So, when you got that fateful call that ‘we really want you to play this groundbreaking role of Mira for the show’, do you remember what your first thought was right there and then?

It was about 2 years ago and I mean honestly I didn’t understand how catastrophic this job is and how important the show is but as we’re getting closer to premiere, I’m definitely understanding more and more that this show is going to mean so much to so many people. Especially my mom’s generation who have deserved this show for so long and have been waiting for this show but I’m really excited for little kids to grow up normalizing South Asian culture and being exposed to it.

So, your mom’s generation would be mine so trust me this couldn’t be a more momentous show. Just not even a show that I thought that in my lifetime I would ever see happen. So I truly understand how groundbreaking that this is going to be and why I’m so excited about speaking to you and also talking about this on my show. I want to ask you something, tell me a bit about Mira’s character and why you feel that she will resonate with global audiences considering that she is not your typical North American character and you’ve already addressed that, but what is it about her character that you feel will resonate beyond the South Asian culture?

So Mira, I think something that I really want to drive home with the show is that she is a character that both boys and girls can look up to. She is very strong minded, she preserves through every situation, she never gives up, she’s very inclusive and tries to make everyone feel special and that’s something that I think that I’m learning from her every single day. She’s just a really brave girl that I don’t think we see enough of in the media. I’m just so, so honoured to be playing a character like that.

Photo Courtesy of Disney

You know I haven’t seen this yet obviously because the show has yet to air but I already find Mira’s character very interesting. As I mentioned that you know the show has yet to come out. It’s coming out in the US March 20th and then over 160 countries worldwide. It’s incredible. I’m gushing and I’m not even involved with the project but I have to ask you that you know she’s been depicted as a “commoner” who’s been appointed by the Queen to be the Royal detective, right there in that statement I’m already hearing a lesson. That talent and hardwork can remove barriers such as caste and gender which are so negatively charged in India still today.

Definitely.

What are some of the key lessons of this series, without of course giving away any of the plot lines, that you feel the show is going to be addressing?

I think that a universal theme that people can take away is that you should never give up, there’s always a solution to your problems and Mira in every single episode you see her finding a way out. She never stops looking for clues and she never gets desperate. She’s always very calm and she never tries to find the easy way out. I think that people from the show are going to learn like you said hard work definitely pays off.

And you know, there are so many strong female characters that Disney studios has been putting out over the course of the last I would say 10 years. Like the last decade, we’ve really seen a major shift and you know, Disney is one of those studios that’s really kind of understanding the sensibilities of the changing demands of society and putting it out there so that the lessons can be learned. Massive kudos that something like this is actually going out there in the world and for our kids to see what is possible. You know and to also maybe remove some of those thoughts of perhaps what people may feel women in the South Asian culture are all about because there’s always kind of a dialogue around them being weak and feeble et cetera. So what are your thoughts around playing a really strong South Asian female character that basically the entire show is about. I mean, what does that mean to you? It must be like insane.

I mean, I think it’s about time. I’ve definitely had to pinch myself every single day and remind myself that young South Asian girls and boys are now going to grow up seeing someone who looks like them on TV and I think everyone deserves that. Everyone deserves someone to look up to and most importantly a brave and responsible character to look up to. I think Mira is going to be that for a bunch of amazing girls and boys.

Absolutely for an entire generation and it’s interesting because the show targets 2-7 year old age demographic but I’ve got to tell you girlfriend I’m way over 7 and I’m looking forward to watching this show. As we’ve mentioned, it’s not been one that my generation has really had the opportunity to grow up with and perhaps it would’ve changed the dialogue of identity in my head as a woman growing up at that time and I can tell you that you know there’s gotta be a ton of age demographics that are going to be checking this out. I’m curious to know if you’re hearing that. Is Disney hearing that? Are you getting kind of initial feedback about the excitement or curiosity around this show outside of it’s targeted 2-7 age demo.

Oh, 100%. I’ve already gotten a bunch of messages and people coming up to me just thanking me for being a part of this project. You know, obviously your generation, my mom’s generation have been you know waiting for this show and have deserved this show. Definitely not just the kids are excited but I think that a lot of adults are going to be watching this show when it comes out.

Correct me if I’m wrong on this but my understanding is that the series is not specifically targeting South Asian audiences. Obviously by default that will be a huge part of the global audience viewership but being that it’s being released in 160 countries no less and it’s already been green lit for a season 2 and there’s like all this memorabilia that is being put out there. It’s like a Hollywood premiere. It’s like insane and I’m loving it. Can you tell me and maybe shed some light around why such a big push for this? I mean the memorabilia, the mass country approach and all of that you know. What’s the story behind that from your understanding?

I don’t necessarily have an answer on why Disney is choosing like the show but I mean I’m really grateful that they are because it’s going to expose everyone to South Asian culture and it’s going to help young kids normalize it and hopefully break some barriers and make the world a little less divided.

Leela Ladnier. Photo Courtesy of Forbes.

You know, I’ve just got one more question for you and I’ve got to ask this one. What does it feel like to be in a show with so many big names South Asian actors and comedians. In fact, isn’t the entire cast South Asian? Isn’t this a first for any mainstream North American show in any genre?

You’re exactly right. It is the first animated series with an entire South Asian cast. People that I have grown up watching and grown up idolizing. I’ve had the pleasure meeting all of them but when I do I’m going to have to just take a breath. I try not to panic too much but to say that I’m in episodes with such incredible talent. People that have shaped the South Asian culture and shaped our industry is something that I’m pinching myself about everyday.

You know it’s a testament to where as a world collective we’re going. Are there any final words that you’d like to add? Perhaps something that you feel that people should know about the series having been a big part of it coming to life. Is there anything that you feel that we haven’t covered that you feel people need to know?

I definitely think that this is a show more than South Asian culture. This takes place in a fictional land Jalpur but it is so much more than just a show about South Asian culture. I think that every audience is going to be able to relate to this and this is such a groundbreaking show because you know a strong female lead and it’s just such a positive show. I hope people tune in March 20th on Disney Channel and Disney Jr.

I will be there with my samosas and chai for sure. Thank you so much sweetheart. Such a pleasure.

Thank you for having me. So nice. Thank you so much.

 

AASIF MANDVI. . .

Hello Aasif!

Hi, how are you?

I am well, Aasif. Thank you so much for agreeing to be on my show and to talk about this groundbreaking show that’s coming out. This fabulous Disney animation show called Mira, Royal Detective and first of all I’ve got to ask you as an OG in the industry, what was it about this project that you felt that you wanted to be a part of it?

Courtesy of Deadline

I think it is an incredibly groundbreaking project in the sense that like, Disney has never done a story like this before, a show like this before. It’s great to have a world that is set in India. It’s sort of in the world of South Asian characters. I mean, look, I’ve been doing this for a long time and we’ve come a long way in representation. I think also for a lot of young kids, having that young brown girl who is in India and all the other characters around her are Indian and living in that world, immersed in that world i think having that for young kids to see themselves you know when I was growing up I never saw myself in any way represented in mainstream western popular culture. So, it’s nice that can exist more today, you know?

I mean the character of Mira is pretty groundbreaking as well within this groundbreaking show because literally you know, she’s playing quite the non-traditional gender role and it’s really interesting that in a country that’s still so charged negatively with caste and gender that a role like this showing kind of a central character being female and actually being someone that is solving problems is a pretty big deal. I mean, what other lessons do you feel, through your experience with the series, will this be able to put out there for the younger generations? Because it clearly is just not an animation series that is a detective show, there are messages and lessons throughout here for us to learn and for the kids to learn.

Yeah, I think the images of a young girl being empowered and feeling empowered, solving mysteries in this way I think is really important and really necessary. I think in our world today and especially a young brown girl and seeing herself reflected in that way as a strong proactive character. And you know, the great thing is she lives in the palace and she’s friends with the Queen. It kind of crosses class barriers in that way as well. So, in terms of like class and gender I think it’s definitely very progressive in moving forward in a world that where we’re starting to become much more cognizant of those things.

‘Sahil’ Played By Aasif Mandvi. Photo Courtesy of Fandom.

And you play the character of Sahil. I’d love for you to give me a little bit of information about how he fits in there and how you brought him to life.

So Sahil is Mira’s father and he is part of the guard. He’s a military guy in the palace. He’s you know an incredibly caring, doting father who helps her at times and he’s concerned for her but he’s always her champion you know, he’s always like cheering her on as she goes about solving these mysteries and things. And you know, I don’t know how these characters sort of come out of you but  it was really just I saw the picture of him and just he speaks with a kind of an english kind of tenor to his voice, you know? He’s also an incredibly affectionate and doting father, you know?

As a father, how do you feel this series is going to have an impact on the new generation of kids especially as it relates to the traditional roles of gender, the traditional roles of culture and then just that whole other element of being a North American South Asian which brings that duality of identity to play?

Especially in the west, growing up as a kid I can say I never saw myself represented in any way. So, I just watched white people on TV, you know? And the occasional black person but I never saw brown people, I never saw South Asians, I never saw Indians other than like The Jungle Book or something, you know? So, it sort of feels like it is important that it is going to be really normalizing for kids today to be able to see characters of different ethnicities and breaking those gender stereotypes and you can see it happening already like you know our children today do not have the same paradigm. They don’t live in that same paradigm that we grew up in, that I grew up in around gender, around who gets to be the storyteller. I think more and more we’re seeing more diverse voices in television and movies and all that so I think that’s a great thing. I think this is just part of that. This is a show that is targeted towards young kids and I think that’s so important because that is a primal development stage when people form their you know 99% of their opinions about the world at that very early stage in life and so showing them a diversity of faces, of cultures, of attitudes you know all that stuff well just opens up the world a whole lot more.

If you look at the fact that the first time that we’re seeing an animation series of this caliber that is all routed in the South Asian culture and not just that but also the entire cast I believe is South Asian. When that was put to you, what did you think about that? Because I know that you have been a huge pioneer in wanting to have that shift happen in North American entertainment.

It was great, Disney’s managed to bring together a really excellent group of actors as well with Utkarsh and Kal, Frieda, Sarita and you know Jameela. It’s just a real kind of who’s who of South Asians in the business and so it really felt nice to get to work with all these people. We don’t often get to work together, you know it’s rare that we all find ourselves in the same project. So it was nice to feel like ‘oh we’re all participating in the same project this is what white people must feel like.’

[Laughs] You know what’s really interesting Aasif is the fact that although the age demographic here is 2 to 7 year olds, I know from my perspective having never grown up with a show like this where I was being represented in any kind of capacity. I am going to be tuning in like are you hearing that there’s going to be people outside of the targeted age demographic that are going to sit around and watch this to see what it’s all about? I mean, Disney Studios putting this out, it’s a big deal!

Yeah, I think that obviously you know look the kids are going to watch it. Their parents are probably going to watch it. Their parents are going to tell their friends about it and I think that Disney is a brand that is known the world over so the people trust the brand. It will reach a wide audience. It’s a known quantity you know and so I’m hoping that people of different ages and ethnicities will watch the show and enjoy it. I mean, I also hope that not just little brown kids but little white kids, little Asian kids. I think the world over I hope people enjoy it because it’s also just a fun show. You know, outside of this sort of cultural, racial, gender demographics and barriers it’s breaking, it’s also just a fun show to watch and I think that it’s a great thing for young brown kids to see themselves but it’s also a great thing for young white kids and young black kids and young Asian kids to see a brown person represented. It opens up their world as well like we’re all the same. Mira is a little Indian girl in India doing this solving but it could be anywhere. It could be here, it could be in Europe, you know? And so that sort of bridges that gap as well and I think it’s important for people to relate to people who don’t look like them or have the same culture as them and I know I’m not saying anything new here but the idea that, that happens early in development will change future generations.

Aasif Mandvi. Photo Courtesy of India West.

Any final words Aasif or any comments that you’d like to add about the show? It’s impact or what it means to be South Asian today and the changing definition of what it means to be mainstream today?

Well the changing definition of what it means to be mainstream is definitely expanding. You know that idea that it used to be stories were mostly just about white men. Most heroes were white men and that has changed over the course of, you know, several decades but continues to expand and continues to change and I think that as we see with a show like this you start to give young children the image that it doesn’t have to be just you know heroes and heroines and all that don’t have to look a particular way. You know, it doesn’t have to be G.I. Joe. Genders, men, women, transgender you know they could be South Asian, they could be black. So I think that opens up a whole worldview that is more inclusive and i think that’s something we see in our culture all the time which is like the more narrow your worldview is the more dangerous the world becomes.

It’s really interesting to me to have seen kind of how Disney has been at the forefront of this entire diversity and inclusion buzzwords that people talk about today but they’ve been doing it for a number of decades. They’ve been taking those characters that aren’t always foreseen as being your generalized characters and they’ve been spotlighting you know being different and kudos to Disney and kudos to all of you guys having the opportunity to really change the trajectory of how our world foresees not just our culture but also sees each other’s cultures. Thank you so much Aasif. You are such a pleasure.

Thank you so much. Aww thanks.

I wish you guys a huge amount of success. I’m definitely going to be checking this out with my 22 year old son. Cannot wait.

Okay, great.

 

HANNAH SIMONE. . .

My darling Hannah! How are you sweetheart?

Hannah Simone. Photo Courtesy of Variety

I’m good, how are you?

I am so super fabulous now that I’m getting the chance to interview you again after 12 years.

I know!

Remember our cover together at Anokhi Magazine back in 2008.

I do! I actually have here at the house. You guys did a huge cardboard poster for it.

Yes.

I still have it! That was my first cover and it was amazing

Oh my gosh, well here we are again 12 years later for a really really groundbreaking show. I’m so excited to know that you’re involved with Disney’s Mira, Royal Detective. A first in mainstream animation with all the South Asian cast members everyone exclusively South Asian talking about fabulous South Asian culture and having a character that’s centered around a female that’s doing something that isn’t typical female when it comes to the South Asian culture. You’ve got to tell me how you feel being involved like this. A show that you and I never grew up watching.

I couldn’t say yes quick enough to be honest with you. As soon as they told me what the show was I don’t think I even let them finish pitching it. I was like “I’m in, I’ll play any character you want, I’ll do anything you want.” I just wanted to be a part of it. It’s exciting. It feels exciting right now that those stories are being told and celebrated and I feel so lucky that I get to be in the culture of it to help blend my voice to it.

You know, a lot of people Hannah, still don’t know that you have parts of you that are South Asian. Not because you don’t talk about it, just because you know you don’t visually look like your typically South Asian whatever that means today. But you’ve always been very proud to stand tall as a South Asian strong female. What does it mean to you to play the character that you’re playing of Pinky?

I mean, playing Pinky is really exciting just because they’ve allowed me to inject a lot of my own personality and humour and quirks. I have like you know a bunch of cats, I love animals so much. Pinky has a goat that she loves and talks to and sings about. I’ve never sang before in my entire life but I agreed to sing for Pinky for a goat.

I love it.

Yeah, I would say that’s great. It’s just got the most wonderful creators on the show and writers and they really have allowed us to come in and be ourselves and lend part of our own story into it. It’s been an amazing environment to work in.

‘Pinky’ Played By Hannah Simone. Photo Courtesy of Desiplaza TV.

And you know when you were faced with a character of Pinky and then of course you needed to bring her to life and bringing an animated character to life means that you’re not actually on camera, it’s your voice that needs to bring this character to life. How was your preparation for that different from perhaps something that you would do when you’re actually on camera physically?

It’s the greatest job in the world because you get to show up in your pyjamas and you get to dive right into the work. I’m such a homebody anyways so going in and getting hair and makeup and wardrobe all of that is not always my most beloved part of the job. I just want to work. I just want to create the character and I want to be able to dive right in. And so animation is my favourite thing in the world to do. Because you show up, you go straight in the booth and you can try so many things. You can go so many different ways with it and as long as you have partners on the other side of the booth that are willing to let you try those things out, it’s such a fun experience.

How did it feel being involved with a show that had so many other stellar talent whether they be actors or comedians involved and for them to all be South Asian because that’s definitely a first in animation in North America and props to Disney for bringing that forth.

Yeah, I mean to have authentic representation is so, so meaningful. I did a pilot last year for ABC which is connected to Disney and that was something I was really passionate about. So to see it reflected in this show was something that meant a lot to me. What’s so wonderful is that the South Asian acting and creative community down here is so supportive, it was always so exciting to come out of the booth to kind of tag the next person to go in when you were done with your session and to see this familiar face. We all know each other and that was so nice so it’s like working with your friends you’ve been supporting on their project that you know usually are not exclusively South Asian but just supporting them on their projects and lifting
them up for years now and the fact that we all get to come together for a great show. I think
we’re all really excited about it. So it feels great to go to work and know when I leave for the
day I’m going to see a face of somebody I love and admire and have for a while.

When was it back in the day where that was even a possibility? Today it is, because there’s creators that are creating projects that are relevant to today’s society and being that we’re not a minority that’s not visible, I mean we are very, very visible today which you know at least when you entered Hollywood, wasn’t so much the case. So how does that feed into the idea of projects like this even being available and being created and going out into such a mass market cause this particular show is going you know worldwide it’s into 160 markets once it flourishes out around the world which is something that has never happened before?

Yeah, I mean I’ve had a front row seat now for you know a decade and it just goes to show that every casting, every creative casting choice that’s happened from the beginning from when I was here has mattered so much. The role of Cece that I played on New Girl was not written for a South Asian actress and I remember when I was cast in that role talking to the creator of that show and saying to her you don’t know what you’ve just done, you don’t know what you’ve done with this casting to put me in an American network sitcom in a group of friends that’s not about my ethnicity. I don’t have any accents or weird backstory, I’m just part of the gang. And I remember her looking at me going ‘oh I just cast the funniest person Hannah’.

Oh, I love that!

I was like that’s even better! That’s even better! [laughs]

[Laughs]

I said that’s so great that you just saw me for my talent and you’ve now seen that slowly shows and movies over the past decade people have seen people for their talent and put them in these different shows and movies and then we’ve become more visible and you’ve seen that representation and it combinates into something like this. A show that’s entirely South Asian that’s made for kids for all different races, all over the world. It’s just a detective solving different puzzles with her friends. She just happens to be Indian.

Hannah Simone. Photo Courtesy of Entertainment Weekly

So, how do you feel a character like this for our kids and our kid’s kids is going to change the trajectory of how they feel about who they are as an identity?

It’s one of the most important things like I grew up and I never saw myself reflected back on TV in Canada or the US, never. I remember moving, we lived all over the world my family, but I remember when we moved to Canada when I was 17 and do you remember Ian Hanomansing? I don’t know if you remember him but he was a reporter I think on CBC.

He was, for the longest time.

Right and I remember turning on the TV and being so surprised to see this Canadian who looks like me, telling the news. And it was such an important moment and I was like wow that’s incredible I didn’t really know that we could do that, and it helped give me the confidence to go to Ryerson to study and to focus on journalism. That little moment just opened the whole world into a different career that I didn’t think was available for me so then when you start to think of coming generations as young children sitting down and watching a cartoon next to all the other cartoons but seeing themselves reflected back it has importance and significance.

Yeah, it’s really interesting that you say that because we’re looking at this show as being a show for the 2 to 7 year old age demo but you and I know that this is going to be watched by literally every single South Asian person on the planet because it’s so ground-breaking, it’s never happened before. Are you hearing any of this in your network base that the aunties and the uncles and teenagers are going to sit around the table with chai and samosas and watch this show because I’m telling you that I just feel like I need to do that and my son’s 22 and we’re going to sit and watch it.

I can’t believe your son is 22, I remember him being so little at that shoot.

And remember he had the hots for you, and he was really shy?

[laughs] He was so sweet, I remember but he was only I guess 10.

Yes!

Gosh, time flies so fast. On social media so many people have said to me that they are now you know 15, 25, 35, 45 and they cannot wait to sit down because it kind of connects you to your childhood, right?

Yes.

And so I think that there is just this overwhelming level of support from the South Asian community to say we’re going to show up for you but there’s also this overwhelming level of support from people of all different backgrounds who are so excited to sit there and be able to watch this show set in this vibrant culture that is India. So, for me that is the most important key message of this show cause I read all the scripts and I’ve been part of them. And to see how it’s just a universal theme of children and friendship and problem solving and teamwork and sharing. So, I feel like it’s just a great, great cartoon that just happens to be set in India and that’s how I always felt about New Girl was. It was secondary and that was what was so powerful about it.

Now I have to ask you this question just because I know you and I know how much of a strong advocate you are for equality. How do you feel about the notion that this series could conceivably help change perspectives on perceived gender roles as well as culture as the world continues to lean towards gender neutralism in order to combat the ages old gender parity?

I mean I think it’s really important what this show’s doing to cast a young girl they could’ve easily made it a little boy, right?

Right.

Easily. But I feel like this show at the root of it was so thoughtfully conceived to be as progressive as possible and understood the power of their platform. That’s why you know you’re working with really wonderful people. They took every opportunity they had to make sure that they were making it a statement about progress and about representation and showing that world to young impressionable minds in a very sweet, natural and honest way. And that’s why when I heard the little girl that solves problems who happens to be South Asian, I was like I will play the goat if you want me to [laughs]. I was like just let me lend my name and my platform to it. Tell me what you want me to do because I knew who the people were that were creating it, I knew how important it was. All those decisions were not made carelessly, they were made with a lot of thought and understanding of what they were doing.

And it’s so much so that they even stayed authentic to how important music and dance and songs are in our culture. I mean you look at Bollywood, there isn’t a movie that doesn’t have all of that. There’s not a celebration in our culture that doesn’t incorporate that and here Disney is that they went that far in depth with their research bringing on the right people to actually authenticate the show with insuring that that component was even included I mean I’m telling you that’s what made me really excited is the level of depth and layers that they went through to ensure that they were being authentic to how we actually live as a culture. What are your thoughts on that?

They want to make sure there’s an authentic infusion of culture and how we do entertainment and how we tell stories and that’s been really, really fun. And they have a lot of different people that are guiding them from India. To make sure that words are pronounced correctly, that cultural festivals that we honour on the show are being portrayed correctly. I think that’s a part of it that I love the most is that there’s like this you know, you talk about the layers but there’s an educational layer that they made sure they’ve done to show how beautiful and connected to family the South Asian culture is.

I can’t wait to see it, I’m telling you, it’s like I feel like I’m getting ready to watch another great Disney show, I mean, I’m a huge fan of Disney it’s like I have to share a story with you quickly. I took my son to go to Disneyland and I got so kind of enveloped in the whole thing that I stood for the longest time to just go see my favourite princess and I was the oldest person there. The first thing I said to the Disney princess was ‘you are my favourite princess’ and she laughed her head off because here was this woman in her 40 something, standing there for half a day to come say hello and take a picture with her.

I mean, I completely understand like I was working at Disney last year on my pilot and I went into the Disney store that you can go into when you work there and I bought everything that had Princess Jasmine on it like I was you know like what am I doing? I’m a grown woman and I came home with Princess Jasmine pyjamas but it’s a thing growing up and you see somebody that looks like you in this magical world that Disney always manages to create. You connect. You just want to be part of it and she’s not even Indian. She looks like me and that was enough, I’ll take it, you’re my princess you look like me it’s fine. Which is why Mira is so important, it’s a step further and it’s finally our stories being told so I think it’s so exciting and so important and I know kids of all ages including us big kids are just going to love it.

Hannah Simone. Photo Courtesy of Trnto.

Any final words or comments you’d like to add about the show, Hannah. It’s impact on what it means to be South Asian today perhaps or the changing definition of what it means to be mainstream today.

My favourite part of any project that I work on is hearing back from all the people that love the show once it’s gone out into the world. That was my favourite thing about New Girl was all of a sudden that show that we’d worked on for so long was on the air and through social media being tagged in photos and people writing in the comments what they loved that they responded, what they hoped to see and that’s the great thing about TV, it’s not a movie right? Is that week to week we’re shooting it and so fans have like ‘oh we love it when this happens.’ We love Cece and Winston together, we love when Pinky sings to her goat. It’s something that I take so seriously because we create and tell these stories for you and I take it back to our producers and our writers and I go ‘this is what people are loving to see with their children’. So that’s what I can’t wait for, I can’t wait for next week when it’s out in the world and then we can finally see what it’s connecting with all the fans of the show. The best part. That’s why we do it. I truly cannot wait.

Cannot wait to see you be Pinky and sing to goats, that’s all I have to say Hannah.

[Both laugh]

Thank you so, so much for your time. I saw a whole bunch of buzz about this new project that you’re on. Do you feel comfortable talking to me a little about that before I let you go?

Sure, yeah! I mean it’s been exciting ever since New Girl ended, I’ve fell back into the TV world and a variety of different capacity trying to tell a variety of different stories, Mira being one of them. And I got the opportunity this year we’re shooting a pilot that I’m so excited about with another incredible dream team of people that shows how hard it is and how funny it can be to be a working mother trying to go back to work and pursue your goals and have ambition with all of the mom guilt, roles of the wife, roles of the daughter just trying to keep it all together as you walk through that world and so I was just so excited that they thought of me. So there’s a lot of exciting things in the works for 2020 and I can’t wait for people to see it.

Can’t wait to see you just creating a whole other character that we can love Hannah and you know I absolutely adore you. Cannot wait to see you actually just progressing into all the things you do cause one thing I do know about you and that is you are very authentic to what you believe in and you can see that with the characters that you play so that says a lot for us looking forward to Mira, Royal Detective and also looking forward to all the fabulous things that I know are going to be happening because you are who you are. And I love ya and I adore ya.

Thank you, right back at you. It’s so good to hear your voice again, you’re the best.

Aww love you baby. Take care. Good luck.

 

 

Photo Courtesy of Disney Junior.

So there you have it folks. Some insight into Disney’s brand new animations series about South Asian culture Mira, Royal Detective with an all south Asian cast created for a global audience. How times have changed since I was a young girl struggling to understand my dual identity because nothing like this existed to help me figure it all out. Maybe if it did, I wouldn’t have gone through so many struggles trying to decipher my value and worth as a woman and as a person in my own right, but then again Anokhi would never have been created to help provide a platform for those who like me, the millions like me, who felt displaced, marginalized and voiceless would never have had a place to call home. I hope like me you will be tuning in along with your kids and elders to support another strong example of the coming of age of our culture in mainstream global society. Tune in this Friday March the 20th at 11 AM on the Disney Channel and 7 PM on Disney Jr., as well as Disney Channel India.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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