Qui Nguyen (’99) helps define the newest era of Disney Princesses

Qui Nguyen, a 1999 Louisiana Tech speech and theatre graduate, has co-written the newest Disney animated film “Raya and the Last Dragon,” adding to his rapidly growing list of accomplishments and successes.

Nguyen was born to Vietnamese refugee parents in El Dorado, Arkansas. Since his graduation from Louisiana Tech, he has made a name for himself in the playwrighting, television writing, and screenwriting industries.

His plays have been performed to sold-out audiences in places like New York, and his works have won awards on a national level. Nguyen has written for Marvel Studios, Netflix, Syfy, PBS, and AMC. Teaming up with “Crazy Rich Asians” writer and one of his heroes, Adele Lim, for this Disney project has proven to be one of the most ambitious releases of his career yet, a career that has not been without struggle.

“Five years ago, I was broke, borrowing cash for rent and food, in tears, thinking my writing dream was dead,” Nguyen said. “Now I’m weeks away from the premiere of my very first film. Thank you to everyone that didn’t give up on me. You kept my dream alive even when I couldn’t.”

“Raya and the Last Dragon” is set in a fantasy world that draws inspiration from Southeast Asian cultures and landscapes and features a predominantly Asian American voice cast.

Refining the themes of the film and its characters was an important part of Nguyen and Lim’s writing process. The weight of the historical lineage of Disney Princesses that people all over the world look up to was not lost on them.

“I can’t wait for everyone (especially my kids) to meet these all-new Asian superheroes that [Adele] and I penned,” Nguyen said. “I wish I had them when I was small.”

“Raya and the Last Dragon” will premiere in theaters March 5, with a simultaneous release on the Disney+ streaming service in response to COVID-19’s effect on the movie theater industry.