Ryan Potter on Voicing One of Disney’s First Multi-Ethnic Characters


Why can’t everyone stop talking about Disney’s Oscar-winning animated film, Big Hero 6? Well, during a time when the Academy Awards are heavily critiqued for a lack of diversity, it’s movies like Big Hero 6 and shows like Fresh Off the Boat that allow Asian American audiences to see characters who actually look like us (and aren’t villainized or in the background).

We spoke to Ryan Potter, the voice of Hiro Hamada, back in December during KoreAm & Audrey‘s annual awards ceremony, Unforgettable. After joking around about Asians knowing the best places to eat, he pointed out that what really makes our community so special is that we always support one another.

“There’s really no competition with one another for roles,” Potter explained. “If one of us is suited for a certain role better than another, it’s kind of like ‘Hey, I’m just happy one of us got it and the role wasn’t changed to another ethnicity.’ We all have each others back.”

This support within the Asian American community was certainly evident with everyone’s positive reaction to Big Hero 6‘s Oscar win. In our more recent interview with Ryan Potter, he recalls the very moment he realized that Hiro is one of the first multi-ethnic Disney characters, and what that could mean for the future of films.

“I remember someone told me, ‘How does it feel to be one of the first multi-cultural, multi-ethnic Disney characters ever?’ I was like, ‘Well there’s Mulan– oh wait, no. Pocahontas– wait no.’ Tadashi and Hiro are really the first multi-cultural Disney characters ever,” Potter says. “It’s the 54th title. From here on out, I can only imagine what Disney’s gonna come up with. [Big Hero 6] was definitely groundbreaking and I’m very honored to be able to be apart of it.”

Check out the rest of the interview below:

We don’t know what’s next for Potter, but we do know we’re rooting for him. And for those of you who are still unconvinced that Big Hero 6 is important to the Asian American community, consider what sort of effect it can have on children. As one of the writers for The Nerds of Color points out:

I, for one, am glad for Big Hero 6 and all its flaws. I’ll hope for a sequel or two that will feature — yes — more complex female characters, more men of color, and dare we hope queer people of color too? My daughter will sit in my lap, as she often demands for films that have any action in them, so she can turn her head into my chest if she feels like it’s too scary. I thank Big Hero 6, for the simple and necessary fact that in those moments, that the only person on the screen who looks like her daddy is not the villain.


Don’t miss out. You can purchase the Big Hero 6 Blu-ray Combo Pack, Digital SD, DVD and On-Demand today!



Feature image courtesy of Disney.




[Video] Audrey Magazine Interviews Daniel Henney & Ryan Potter + Bloopers


The release of Disney’s Big Hero 6 on Blu-ray and DVD is less than a week away. Naturally, this seemed like the perfect time to reconnect with two of the film’s key voice actors, Ryan Potter and Daniel Henney.

…Who are we kidding? Any time is a good time to talk to Ryan Potter and Daniel Henney.

Potter voices Hiro Hamada, the main character of the film who leads the group of young superheroes that make up Big Hero 6. You may recognize Potter from Nickelodeon’s Supah Ninjas, where he proved that he doesn’t even need Hiro’s super suit to beat up villains in real life– he’s well-trained in martial arts. Daniel Henney lends his voice to Hiro’s older brother, Tadashi, who created the beloved Baymax. You probably recognize Henney as Agent Zero from X-Men Origins: Wolverine or as one of Audrey’s SHAGs (Smoking Hot Asian Guys) not one, not two, but three times.

When we last spoke to Ryan Potter and Daniel Henney together, the two admitted that they hadn’t actually met each other until after the film was complete. Well it seems like the months of promoting the film together have certainly made the two much closer. We were lucky enough to get the chance the interview Potter and Henney earlier this month. Needless to say, they showed off that brotherly bond and even tried to prank us. Check out the interview below and make sure you watch until the end for the adorable bloopers.



Don’t forget to watch our Valentine’s Day interview with Baymax and our interview with the directors of Big Hero 6, Don Hall and Chris Williams.

If you missed Big Hero 6 in theaters, you’re in luck. The Digital HD/Disney Movies Anywhere (DMA) is already available. The Blu-ray Combo Pack, Digital SD, DVD and On-Demand will be available on February 24, 2015. Bonus features include deleted scenes and even the adorable short which opened for Big Hero 6 in theaters, Feast.

Be on the look out for updates on Big Hero 6‘s social media:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/DisneyBigHero6
Twitter: https://twitter.com/disneysbighero6
Website: http://movies.disney.com/big-hero-6/
DMA App: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/disney-movies-anywhere-watch





“Big Hero 6″’s Hapa Brothers: Daniel Henney and Ryan Potter

“We actually just met last week to promote this movie,” Ryan Potter laughs, gesturing to his neighbor, Daniel Henney. A startling revelation, as Potter and Henney voice a pair of loving, biracial brothers who tell each other just about everything.

Disney’s Big Hero 6, while a superhero cartoon, focuses on much more than just the combat scenes. Whether the young protagonist Hiro Hamada is hanging out with his friends or bantering with his older brother Tadashi, he’s at his happiest when he’s being affirmed and supported by his unconventional family. Family doesn’t always mean two parents and the dog.

“[Big Hero 6 is] about the idea if you utilize the brain of a brilliant child, or children in general, to its full capacity, what they can do, what they can overcome with the right support system,” says Henney, who voices Tadashi.

Tadashi has assumed the role as family protector from the start of the film, when he rescues his little brother Hiro from a few crooked robot fighters. Gently nudging Hiro in the direction of applying for college, Tadashi watches over him lovingly as their parents would and proves that broken families don’t lack love.

“I’m kind of his rock, and I try to guide him the right way when he seems to step off the path a little bit,” Henney says of his character. “Tadashi sees that Hiro isn’t up to his full potential, but by the end of the film, [Hiro] definitely sees his own purpose,” adds Potter.

While Tadashi might not be physically present for the majority of the film, Hiro carries his brother’s influence and his passion for helping people in his mind, and it’s this love for caring that has him committing to fighting crime with the Big Hero 6 by the end of the movie.


Japanese American Hapa Ryan Potter on His Big Debut in “Big Hero 6″


As someone who has spent his whole life training in martial arts –– it was this hobby that landed him the leading role of Mike Fukanaga in Nickelodeon’s Supah Ninjas and jumpstarted his acting career, after all –– you’d think the fight sequences featured in Disney’s newest animation action flick Big Hero 6 would seem kind of mediocre to Ryan Potter. But he’s as floored by the elaborate animations as anyone.

“It’s that Marvel effect! Gotta love those Marvel action sequences,” 19-year-old Potter said excitedly over the phone, referring to Big Hero 6’s origin as a Marvel comic. “They’re larger than life.”

Potter lends his voice for the first time to the character Hiro Hamada, a 14-year-old genius living in the fictional city of San Fransokyo and the eventual leader of Big Hero 6, a team of super smart superheroes. After the sudden death of his older brother Tadashi, Hiro decides to investigate the suspicious circumstances surrounding the tragic accident with the help of Baymax, a healthcare robot designed by Tadashi. Hiro’s older friends, GoGo Tomago, Wasabi, Honey Lemon and Fred, also join the fight in a show of friendship.


Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios

The friends skate, race cars and even fly through the city of San Fransokyo, which is a clever and imaginative mash between the major cities of Tokyo, Japan and San Francisco, U.S.A. After watching the finished product, the city itself stirred up fond memories for Potter, who was raised in Tokyo until his family moved back to the United States at the age of seven.

“There are so many similarities between Tokyo and San Fransokyo that when I watched the film, there were a lot of hidden moments there for me,” said Potter. “There were memories of me taking the train with my mom … it represented a big part of my childhood.”

The presence of Tokyo wasn’t the only thing that held meaning for Potter. Many people are already pointing out the fact that not only does Disney’s newest venture feature a multiracial cast and a diverse number of characters, but the main hero himself is biracial.

“If you consider the U.S. the melting pot of the world, hopefully in the future, the media is going to show that,” said Potter, who is of Japanese and Caucasian descent. “This movie has opened doors for more mixed roles for characters and actors who are biracial.” Growing up, Potter would watch TV and notice that he never saw any heroes who looked like him. People of mixed race were not represented in the media. Big Hero 6 gave him Hiro, the hero he’d always wanted to see as a child. Though the Big Hero 6 team includes characters of various ethnicities, Disney doesn’t poke fun at the characters’ backgrounds, or even highlights them, for that matter. “These characters don’t feel like they need to identify themselves –– they’re just San Fransokyans,” said Potter. “It’s just like when people ask me about my background. I don’t like to say I’m Japanese and Caucasian –– I say I’m American. Because that’s all that matters.”


Walt Disney Studios

With his first animated feature under his belt, Potter is hooked to voice-overs and hopes he can join more animated projects in the future. His dream film? Any future Studio Ghibli movies legendary Japanese filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki decides to embark on. “It’s so freeing,” Potter said of the advantages voice-acting has over live acting. “You go into that [recording] booth and you don’t have to worry about what you or your body looks like. You can be completely yourself.” The young actor, while he has no big upcoming projects, is currently planning on applying to various film schools in Southern California and dreams of working with Jeff Bridges and Robert Downey, Jr. But Big Hero 6 is a project that will remain close to his heart. “My favorite scene of all time has to be the first flight sequence Hiro takes with Baymax,” said Potter, referring to the scene where Baymax takes Hiro on an adventure through the city and over the clouds. “I think it’s every kid’s dream to fly.”