Wish: What Is Asha's Ethnicity? Producer Reveals Where She's From

By Klein Felt Posted:
Wish poster, Asha

Disney's Wish takes inspiration from many cultures and places around the world, but the one thing viewers keep wondering about is the ethnicity of its main character Asha.

Asha is played by Oscar-winner (and future Wicked movie star) Ariana Debose. The 17-year-old at the heart of the film goes on a quest to free the hopes and dreams (or wishes) of the people around her from the clutches of a power-hungry king. 

The movie debuted in theaters in November 2023, but it is back in the conversation after coming to Disney+ in early April 2024. 

Where Is Asha From?

Asha from Disney's Wish in a street market with her arms opened wide

Wish coming to streaming has left some fans seeing the movie for the first time pondering what ethnicity the movie's hero Asha is and where the movie takes place. 

Film producer Juan Pablo Reyes Lancaster Jones provided some clarity on the subject in a conversation with Geeks of Color from November 2023. 

He told the outlet that Asha has "Southern European and North African heritage," with the character's interwoven braids and bronzed skin coming from her mother:

"Asha has Southern European and North African heritage from her mother's side. And we learned that maybe her mother was the one doing the braids for her."

He also detailed having an expert named Thressa "who came in and helped the art department design her hairstyles" during the production process to reflect the stylings of that region of the world:

"And we did have an expert named Thressa who came in and helped the art department design her hairstyles all the way through modelling. So it’s something that came from the story and that we took very seriously."

A landscape shot of the Kingdom of Rosas from Disney' Wish

This heritage would make sense for Asha as the film's central locale, the Kingdom of Rosas, is said to be located in the Mediterranean Sea off the Iberian Peninsula. This landmass makes up parts of France, Spain, Portugal, Andorra, and Gibraltar. 

This part of the world is shown off splendidly in Wish, with Rosas sporting the terracotta roof tiles and cobblestone streets the region is known for. 

One can also see the Mediterranean Sea throughout the film, with its crystal blue hues featured prominently. 

Asha and Disney's Push For More Diversity

Wish's Asha is just the latest in a long line of more diverse characters from Disney, with the studio (and Hollywood as a whole) pushing for more diversity on screen. 

Whether it was South East Asia in Raya and the Last Dragon or South America in Encanto, it has been exciting to see a name as big as Disney broaden its on-screen palette culturally. 

For fans from these parts of the world, this is an opportunity for them to see themselves represented faithfully in big multi-million-dollar Hollywood blockbusters. 

And the trend is sure to continue, especially with the studio's big animated film for 2024 being the Polynesia-based Moana 2

There are a few places Disney has yet to touch though within this modern diversity push. 

Parts of the world like the Indo-Gangetic Plain and peninsular India, the Islands of Japan, and central Africa feel rife with potential if the studio were looking for that next place to set an animated adventure. 

However, with sequels such as Frozen 3 and Zootopia 2 holding Disney's focus over the next couple of years, it will likely be quite some time before any of these cultures and locations are explored on the big screen.

Wish is now streaming on Disney+. 

Read more about Disney's Wish:

Full Cast of Disney's 2023 Wish Movie: Every Main Character & Voice Actor (Photos)

Why Wish Movie Has So Many Disney Easter Eggs, Explained by Filmmakers (Exclusive)

Will Wish 2 Happen? Disney Director Responds to Sequel Prospects (Exclusive)

Wish: How Asha Differs from Other Disney Princesses, Explained by Director (Exclusive)

- In This Article: Wish
Release Date
November 22, 2023
Ariana DeBose
Chris Pine
- About The Author: Klein Felt
Klein Felt is a Senior Editor at The Direct. Joining the website back in 2020, he helped jumpstart video game content on The Direct. Klein plays a vital role as a part of the site's content team, demonstrating expertise in all things PlayStation, Marvel, and the greater entertainment industry.