Diversifying Disney! A college student from Greenwich is dedicating her senior thesis to doing just that.
“I’ve been in love with Disney pretty much as long as I can remember… I have always really longed to see a Korean Disney princess,” says Julia Riew who went ahead and created her own, for a musical she wrote, as her senior thesis at Harvard University.
The 22 year old shares her lyrics and process on TikTok.
She’s gone viral with her incredible music and polished mission.
“I was actually working on a completely different project for 6 months and then during the pandemic, I took a gap year,” she says, explaining that, tragically, her grandfather died of Covid. “My grandmother moved in with us. After getting much closer to her and hearing her stories, practicing Korean with her, I realized how out of touch I was with my Korean heritage.”
So, Riew pivoted and started writing Shimcheong: A Folktale, a modern adaptation of an old, cultural story, also called The Blind Man’s Daughter.
“I think we’re at a really exciting time where, for the first time, diverse stories are being sought out and are being welcomed,” she says.
This student in theater, dance, media and music recently presented her project on stage to a very warm reception.
She hopes to empower kids by enabling them to see themselves on screen but that’s not all.
“When we see different kinds of stories, people living different kinds of lives, it really does help build understanding with people from other cultures who look different than us,” she says.
A musical journey to change the world one beautiful note at a time: “Absolutely there’s always more that can be done but I think we are heading in the right direction.”
Riew hasn’t heard from Disney but, she has connected with several film and theater producers who have reached out and she’s also talking to an agent.
Follow Riew on TikTok: @juliariew