Mexican American filmmaker Carlos López Estrada broke out in a big way in 2018 when he directed the critically acclaimed crime dramedy Blindspotting and was named to Variety’s list of Top 10 Directors to Watch.
López Estrada, who was born in Mexico City, told Remezcla at Sundance that same year that as a person of color, the script for Blindspotting, which is about a Black man overcoming hardships stemming from gentrification, resonated with him.
“I’m an outsider in this country and I grew up speaking very little English,” López Estrada said. “I understand what it feels like to look around and to know that you don’t necessarily belong, and to have to find my way.”
With his new project, the Disney animated film Raya and the Last Dragon, López Estrada, who is serving as a co-director, will once again be on the outside looking in on a culture that is unfamiliar to him. Raya and the Last Dragon is a southeast Asian story about a warrior princess named Raya (Kelly Marie Tran) who must restore peace to an ancient land by finding the last dragon (Awkwafina).
Along with filmmaking, López Estrada is a music video director who has worked with bands like Thundercat, Flying Lotus, Goo Goo Dolls and Clipping, a hip-hop group featuring rapper Daveed Diggs, who co-wrote and starred in López Estrada’s debut film Blindspotting. In 2018, López Estrada directed Billie Eilish’s music video “When the Party’s Over.”
Last year, The Hollywood Reporter said that López Estrada was tapped by Disney to direct a live-action version of the 1973 animated film Robin Hood.
Raya and the Last Dragon premieres in theaters and on Disney+ March 4.