Apart from tracing an inspiration to BTS, 4*Town’s Tae Young in Turning Red also has a bit of Filipino roots to him.
Pixar’s latest movie, Turning Red, has become the internet’s latest animated obsession. The movie revolves around Mei, a 13-year-old girl living in Toronto whose world is turned upside down when she discovers that she can transform into a red panda whenever she’s excited or stressed. As it turns out, this is a family curse and the only way that she can stop it is by performing a ritual on a red moon. The only problem is that the night of the red moon is the same night as the concert of her favorite boy band, 4*Town.
4*TOWN, PIXAR’S HOTTEST BOY BAND
The animated flick has been a hit with many critics and viewers for a variety of reasons. Turning Red’s unique and anime-inspired animation makes it stand out from other past Pixar releases. The trials and tribulations that Mei goes through, whether it be having crushes on boys, dealing with family traditions, getting embarrassed by your mother, and finding your own path in life are relatable for many viewers. But one aspect of the movie that has gotten many talking is the film’s in-universe boyband, 4*Town.
Composed of members Aaron T., Aaron Z., Robaire, Tae Young, and Jesse, the group is Pixar’s first ever boy band. They take heavy inspiration from boy bands of the early 2000s like N*SYNC and The Backstreet Boys. Given how Turning Red is set in 2002, those are apt references. Ever since Turning Red’s premiere, the group and their songs have gone viral. In fact, recent Oscar winners Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas, who voices Jesse in the movie, wrote three songs for the soundtrack: Nobody Like U, U Know What’s Up, and 1 True Love.
But one member that has caught the attention of many, especially amongst the K-pop fans is Tae Young. Director Domee Shi has confirmed that the character was inspired by BTS and as many fans believe, by Jimin in particular. According to the band’s official website, he is “The youngest member of 4*Town. A lover of animals, Tae Young is dedicated to wildlife rehabilitation and has personally fostered injured doves between tours.”
MEET GRAYSON VILLANUEVA
While the K-pop influence behind Tae Young is clear, did you know that a Filipino is behind his voice? The animal lover of 4*Town is voiced by Filipino-American actor and musician Grayson Villanueva. “Such a wonderful experience making music with this team and proud to be a part of the first Pixar feature film representing an Asian coming-of-age story” he wrote in the caption announcing his participation in the movie. While not a household name to most, he has had his fair share of work in the entertainment industry.
Grayson is an actor, singer, beatboxer, and vocal arranger. In terms of acting experience, his first ever role was a short cameo as Manny’s college roommate in Modern Family. His voice work for Tae Young serves as his film debut and first time working on an animated film. Aside from acting, the SAG-AFTRA member has performed on seasons one and two of The Christmas Caroler Challenge. He also is a member of music groups The House Jacks, The Filharmonic, Vocal Flash, and HIVE. And to top it all off, Grayson has worked with big brands and major theme parks like GAP, Disneyland Resorts, Legoland California, and Universal Studios.
NOBODY LIKE U
@hellocolorgray ?✌?✨ – Tae Young ♡ #4TOWN #TurningRed ♬ Nobody Like U – From “Turning Red”/Chorus – 4*TOWN (From Disney and Pixar’s Turning Red)
On his TikTok page, Grayson shared a few moments of his experience voicing Tae Young. The talented musician shared a few clips of his audition process to getting the role. According to him, he had to submit demos of him singing as part of the process. And it’s not just his vocal talents that he lends to Turning Red. Grayson also beatboxes on some of the original tracks of 4*Town, most notably in Nobody Like U. So, not only is Tae Young an animal lover, but he’s a beatboxer, too. Tae Young’s voice isn’t heard much in the movie. If Turning Red gets a sequel, Tae Young should get more parts. And who knows, 4*Town might add a Filipino member next time.
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