Pixar Animation Studios has a well-earned reputation as a movie innovator. Since the 1995 debut of “Toy Story,” Pixar has pushed the envelope with its animation technology and how it integrates art with multi-layered storytelling.
Now, the studio has made history by including its first nonbinary character in its newest film, “Elemental,” which opened on June 16.
Voice actor Kai Ava Hauser confirmed the news on their Twitter account with an introduction to the new character.
“BIG ANNOUNCEMENT,” they said in the tweet. “I got to play Pixar’s first nonbinary character! Meet Lake!”
BIG ANNOUNCEMENT I got to play Pixar's first nonbinary character! Meet Lake!
I voice Lake in the new movie #Elemental! I'm seeing it in theaters tonight with my friends, so you can catch it in theaters too if you wanna see them. pic.twitter.com/6kBPGvCATE
— Kai Ava Hauser (@JustAVoiceActor) June 16, 2023
The newest Pixar film is set in Element City, where all the residents represent one of the four elements: earth, water, fire and air.
The movie “introduces Ember, a tough, quick-witted and fiery young woman whose friendship with a fun, sappy, go-with-the-flow guy named Wade challenges her beliefs about the world they live in,” according to Pixar’s official description.
Lake Ripple, a water-based character in the world of “Elemental,” is the younger sibling of Wade Ripple, one of the leading characters in the film.
In their Twitter thread, Hauser discussed the importance of including LGBTQ characters in films.
“It’s so hard for us to be treated in media as something non-political vs. just being people,” they wrote. “But to me getting to voice a nonbinary character — and one in such a big movie — it was an honor. I count that as a win in my book. Still more is needed and we’re working to get there!”
Pixar has pushed for more inclusion in its movies with its corporate owner The Walt Disney Company. In 2022, Pixar employees called out Disney executives for censoring numerous storylines and character interactions based on sexuality or gender.