One of the directors of Wish confirmed how Asha differs from the heroes and princesses of Disney Animation’s past projects.
But things get a little complicated when it's revealed that the king doesn't plan on granting everyone’s wish, instead keeping them locked up forever and left to be forgotten by those who made them in the first place. In retaliation, Asha wishes for a star to help set things right.
To her surprise, Asha’s wish is so powerful that it calls down a literal star to guide her way.
What Makes Wish's Asha Unique?
In an exclusive interview with Wish Co-Director Chris Buck, the filmmaker discussed what makes Asha unique compared to the previous Disney heroes.
Buck noted that Asha does have certain aspects that are similar to previous leads and past princesses, including “a passion and a drive and a strength to her:”
“I mean, it's a character that there are certain aspects that are like some of our other leads, there's a passion and a drive and a strength to her. One thing she doesn't know right away is that she has these leadership qualities. Maybe she doesn't believe them, whatever. But she definitely steps into them by the end of the movie.”
The director admitted that he thinks what really made the character “unique” is “bringing in Ariana DeBose:”
“So we love that arc. I think what does make her unique is bringing in Ariana DeBose. Ariana, bringing in her personality, a very unique personality. Someone who's not afraid to speak her mind. Someone who's not afraid to be funny and be quirky, and all these great things that give a specificity to the character. And sometimes, you don't really know what you got until that actor comes in and starts collaborating with you and really shaping the character.”
But when the credits are done rolling and everyone has left the theater, what is it that the filmmakers want audiences to remember the most?
Buck called attention to the tradition of blowing out a birthday candle and not telling anyone what the wish is:
“There's one thing I would love, and it's a sort of a tradition that we have that I think is so wrong, and that is at birthdays, right? The candles. You blow out the candles, and you make a wish. And then everybody says, 'Don't say wish out loud. Whatever you do, don't say wish out loud, it will never come true.' I would love the opposite to be true. I love when people who blow out the candles, make a wish, say it out loud.”
This concept is especially important to Buck because that very thing “happened for [them].” They wanted to work at Disney, so they “let people know,” and their wish came true:
“Because, as it happened for us, our wish was to work at Disney. We let people know. We wanted to work at Disney, and we got a lot of help along the way. So, what I guess I'm saying is that if you put your wish out there and let people know, I think there'll be a lot of helpers, just like in our movie, that will help you achieve that wish.”
As for Executive Producer Peter Del Vecho, he wants everyone to remember “that wishes are attainable:”
“That wishes are attainable, and that there is hope in the world, especially if we connect together.”
Producer Juan Pablo Reyes Lancaster-Jones added that he would want people to remember that while “it’s up to us to determine our destiny… There [is help] from the universe:”
“And I would say something that [Co-Director] Chris Buck says all the time is that when you say your wish out loud, the world listens. And then there's guidance, like Star's, there to help and guide Asha, and in real life, there's people like that surrounding us, too. It's up to us to determine our destiny, but there [is help] from the universe.”
How Wish’s Asha Stands Out From Traditional Disney Princesses
There's no denying Ariana DeBose's performance as Asha is wonderfully infectious.
While Chris Buck does not note it, one key difference with Asha is despite how it may look, she’s not technically a princess like Belle or Ariel. Though she’s near royalty and tries to work under them at times, Asha has no royal heritage.
Obviously, she is far from the first not to hold the coveted title. There are more recent characters like Mirabel from Encanto and Moana who aren't princesses either—though that doesn't affect their popularity.
Surprisingly, many don't even consider Frozen's Elsa and Anna to be princesses despite their standing in the kingdom.
Asha certainly shares a lot with the heroes that come before her. Even so, her journey and overall story are notably different than others; those experiences truly set her apart from the rest of Disney’s heroes.
Then, of course, no one else has a goat like Valentino.
Wish hits theaters on Wednesday, November 22.