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‘Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur’ Cast and Crew on the Power of Representation

Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, currently airing on Disney Channel and streaming on Disney+, follows Lunella Lafayette is a 13-year-old genius living with her parents and grandparents in the Lower East Side of New York. One day, she activates a portal and a red, horned Tyrannosaurus steps out of it. Together, the two fight crime, while also addressing the importance of representation and the need to talk about social issues like gentrification.

Executive producer Steve Loter said much of the animation style that fans see in the series relied on “New York artistic benchmarks” like “Andy Warhol silk screening process, Basquiat graffiti art, and street art murals.” I knew that I had to get it right ’cause if I didn’t, I couldn’t go back to New York,” he said. “They wouldn’t allow me back in. So I had to make sure I did it right.”

Loter mentions that Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse served as a huge inspiration for the team. It really kinda blew the doors wide open to do superhero animation that looked really specialized and unique,” he said. And since he and Laurence Fishburne are huge comic book fans, they used their connection as a sort of “springboard for the visual styling, particularly the linework on the characters and the overall look of the show.”

“We had a lot of conversations about backgrounds and about the environment, the color palette, and all of these kinda textures,” Fishburne said. “We are people who really, really love animation from the very beginning of our lives. So, it’s just kind of a joy for us to be, you know, creating this kind of show.”

Diamond White, who plays Lunella, the series’ titular protagonist, says she saw a lot of herself in the character. “When I was seven, all I wanted was a character like this to come to life,” she said. “So it’s cool to have someone of my skin tone and of my hair texture really be there. The representation means a lot to me.”

“We made history being Marvel’s first teenage Black girl superhero,” White added. “So it’s important to see that kind of representation. I mean, it’s a show that I needed growing up and I feel like it really does make a difference. Like, the show says, one girl can make a difference. Like, this show is going to make a difference in a lot of people’s lives, so I’m just excited to be a part of it.”

On that note, White talked about some of the important cultural specificities that connect to her and her community that will be addressed in Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur. “Well, definitely I’ve experienced, you know, someone calling my hair frizzy or messy and that’s why it was important for me to see the episode where Lunella gets her hair straightened, the perm episode. That touched my soul in a place where it was like, yeah, I’ve been through this,” she said. “And your hair really does become your enemy. Growing up Black, your hair becomes your enemy. So, it’s really cool to see that play out and that’s something that I’ve never seen on television before. I thank everyone on the team for allowing me to, like, bring my voice to that episode because I needed to see that. And my younger self is just, like, thriving right now, so thank you guys.”

And representation was one of the main focuses for Loter, who brought in an all-female writing room to bring their voices and experiences into each episode. “We currently have an all-female writing room, a very diverse writing room,” he said. “So a lot of Lunella’s stories in this are based on real-life experiences that our writers have experienced and have put it through the lens of Lunella, but it was really important. Authenticity was primary, for sure.”

“I’ve always thought that, um, it was smart to be cool. No. I’m sorry. I always thought it was cool to be smart,” Fishburne said about representation. “It doesn’t matter what your gender, what your color, what your faith, what country you live in, I’ve always thought that it was really, really cool to be smart. I think it’s important for us to have this kind of representation because you can’t be what you can’t see. So if more young girls of color get to see an experience of a person like Lunella, then perhaps, they won’t be afraid to show their intelligence and to lead with their intelligence. I think it’s just a good thing to do.”

While Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur stresses the importance on highlighting representation, the series also deals with social matters like the dangers of gentrification in a way that makes it accessible. “Aftershock is the first villain in the series, it’s the first real formidable villain that Lunella faces as Moon Girl,” Loter said. “We really did wanna encapsulate that the mission statement of the series is the one girl makes a difference storyline, which is super important.”

“We made history being Marvel’s first teenage Black girl superhero. So it’s important to see that kind of representation. I mean, like I said, it’s a show that I needed growing up and I feel like it really does make a difference,” White added. “Like the show says, one girl can make a difference. Like, this show is going to make a difference in a lot of people’s lives, so I’m just excited to be a part of it.”

“So that to have this character coming into the Lower East Side sapping it of its energy, there a lot of proverbial notions there. It is a statement about gentrification. It’s a statement about losing community and neighborhood and connection,” Loter added. “So yeah, it was really important for Aftershock to kinda be the conduit — no pun intended — for that kind of story.”

For Fred Tatasciore, voicing Devil Dinosaur was a “beautiful artistic challenge.” But he wanted to avoid leaning into voices that sounded like Scooby-Doo. “We know the traditional sounds are what we think of dinosaurs of being (roars and snorts) and the scariness, and the bigness, and he’s a force of nature,” he said. “But then, we wanted to try to figure out what’s the language of his heart and articulation with Lunella. So, we had to really work together to find it without going to the other direction.” He adds that his voice was aided by the great animation and emojis to help illustrate some of the points.”

And its those legacy animated series that led Fishburne to being a huge part of Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur. “As someone who grew up on all that stuff — The Flintstones, Woody Woodpecker, the trajectory of my career as an artist has led me to this place,” he said. “And it just so happened that I got to meet Moon Girl at the right time and I got to meet Steve at the right time. And we’ve all gotten together and here we are in this place where we can bring Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur to an audience that’s hungry for it.”

Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur is currently airing on The Disney Channel and streaming exclusively on Disney+

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