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‘Dinner is Served’ Director on Trying to Fit in and Finding Himself in the Process

Scene from Disney’s “LAUNCHPAD” Season One short, “DINNER IS SERVED,” Directed by Hao Zheng, Written by G. Wilson & Hao Zheng.  Photo courtesy of Disney. © 2021 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Hao Zheng is no stranger to creating stories that touches on the human spirit. The award-winning director, who was recently named a 2021 Forbes 30 Under 30 honoree and recognized at countless film festivals, has been recognized for his work with the 2019 First International Film Festival Directing Lab and now as a 2020 Disney Launchpad Director and 2020 HBO Access Directing Program Fellow, where he continues to explore themes of identity and belonging.

In his short for Disney’s Launchpad, Dinner is Served tells the story of a Chinese student at an elite U.S. boarding school who realizes excellence is not enough when he tries out for a leadership position no international student has ever applied for.

This was Zheng’s story. During his time at boarding school, he decided to audition for the maître d’ program, which was as highly praised position that has never been given to an international student before. Like the student in his story, Zheng felt extremely awkward began singing in front of his classmates. Fortunately, Zheng graduated and was able to tell his story through film.

Check out the interview below as we chat about Zheng’s story, wanting to fit in, finding yourself, and the significant in the song choice:

Don’t forget to check out the other amazing shorts from Disney’s Launchpad on Disney+ out now.

For more coverage on Disney’s Launchpad, click here.

Disney’s Launchpad: Shorts Incubator — a filmmaking program dedicated to amplifying underrepresented voices — celebrates six directors in its inaugural year to create a story centered on the theme of ‘Discover.’

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