Why The LEGO Ninjago Movie Benefits From Having A Diverse Cast, According To Kumail Nanjiani
The topic of diversity in Hollywood has become a significant source of discussion in recent years. Even in the realm of animation, a film like The LEGO Ninjago Movie has enlisted a delightfully eclectic ensemble of performers to bring its ninjas to life. There are benefits to representation outside just giving different types of actors roles, too. I recently had a chance to ask Ninjago voice actor Kumail Nanjiani about the benefits of this diversity, and he explained that it helped create a better sense of creativity and synergy in the recording booth. The Big Sick star elaborated:
Based on Kumail Nanjiani's remarks during our conversation, in a project like The LEGO Ninjago Movie, the core benefit of enlisting a diverse cast of performers isn't necessarily the fact that different races, genders, or ethnicities receive representation on the big screen. After all, in the final product, every LEGO figurine will be the same size and shape. The real benefit of diversity is in the point of view that each performer brings from their own life experiences -- which subsequently translates into more interesting improv in the recording booth. With each member of the ensemble bringing an entirely different perspective (personally and professionally) to the film's ample improv, it creates jokes and story opportunities that a homogenous writers room couldn't develop.
Citing Get Out as an example of how this can work highlights the importance of creative diversity arguably better than any other film released in 2017. Noted for its unique take in addition to its skillful execution, the horror film feels firmly rooted in a point of view that has gone relatively unexplored in the genre. As a result, Jordan Peele has handily become the first African-American director to cross the $100 million mark at the worldwide box office, while also delivering a phenomenal return on Blumhouse's investment. By embracing that diversity of thought and point of view as much as diversity of race or ethnicity, studios can find stories that haven't been told before. Taking the baton from Peele, The LEGO Ninjago Movie is now endeavoring to do the same in animation.
Make sure to watch out for Kumail Nanjiani and the rest of The LEGO Ninjago Movie's ensemble when the film debuts in theaters this weekend on September 22.
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Originally from Connecticut, Conner grew up in San Diego and graduated from Chapman University in 2014. He now lives in Los Angeles working in and around the entertainment industry and can mostly be found binging horror movies and chugging coffee.
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