Disney has debuted six live-action shorts on Disney+ as part of the company’s Launchpad program. All six films fall under the theme “Discover” and Dinner Is Served embraces this theme by telling the story of an immigrant student who learns the cultures and costumes of his new home without shedding the traditions from his home country. The director recently spoke about embracing identity and how a special moment in his film can inspire others to do so.
Dinner Is Served takes place at an elite U.S.boarding school where a Chinese student realizes excellence is not enough when he tries out for a leadership position that no international student has ever applied for. The film is a beautiful anecdote on learning what drives a person’s decisions and staying true to yourself in that process. I sat down with director Hao Zheng for an interview with CinemaBlend and he shared the following about embracing one’s identity:
A need to fit in as Hao Zheng describes is something most of us are all too familiar with, especially in school. In Dinner Is Served, Xiaoyu wants to audition for a Maitre D’ position. Because the role requires students to present a monologue (including a welcome and various menu items) to a group and remember the names of every guest to address them properly, it was not previously attempted by international students. Determined to succeed despite his accent and pronunciation, Xiaoyu gives it his all but still gets made fun of by others in the room.
Instead of allowing his mispronunciation to stop him or make him flee from the unwanted attention of the room, Xiaoyu belts out a song in his native tongue. As director Hao Zheng mentioned, this moment is rebellious as it’s certainly out of the norm for a Maitre D’ to sing, but it’s also a statement from the character essentially saying, “This is who I am and this is what I sound like, and I’m proud of it.” He fully embraces who he is and decides being true to himself is more important than fitting in.
You can enjoy the full course meal that is Dinner Is Served right now, streaming on Disney+. To see more young people come into their own, check out Booksmart and other coming-of-age movies that are available to stream or rent online.
Obsessed with Hamilton and most things Disney. Gets too attached to TV show characters. Loves a good thriller, but will only tolerate so much blood.
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