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Stateside Podcast: Disney's newest superhero has Detroit roots

Diamond White stands behind a mic in a sound booth.
Marvel's Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur - (Disney/Kyusung Gong) Diamond White

Kids and Marvel super fans alike have a new animated television series to look forward to: "Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur," which is set to release this week on Disney. The show revolves around Lunella Lafayette, a 13-year-old genius-turned-superhero protecting the Lower East Side of New York with her crime-fighting dinosaur partner. The character is Marvel’s first Black girl superhero to star in her own series.

Diamond White, a Detroit native, voices Lunella on the show. She said playing the role of a hyper young teen meant ramping up the energy of her delivery.

"I feel like, coming from Detroit, we're very laid back and very, like, chill," White said. "Lunella is the opposite of chill. She's very all over the place. She's a 13-year-old girl, so of course she's going to be all over the place."

But White said she actually does have a lot in common with the character she voices. For one, Lunella can be insecure in social situations—something that White said she relates to as someone who was homeschooled. Like Lunella, White was also very determined as a kid.

"[The] thing about Lunella is she juices things up a lot and falls on her butt a lot," White explained. "But she always finds a solution to fixing it, which is something that I did as a kid as well. Like you couldn't tell me, 'Oh, you can't do this.' I'm going to do it and reap the consequences, and then I'm never going to do it again."

White said she wanted to bring her own personal flair to the role of Lunella. It was important for her that the character to come across as authentic.

"[O]nce I read the breakdown for this role, I realized that this is a very important character and the representation is important for kids to see," White said. "[I]t's something that I needed growing up; this type of cartoon showing a super genius black girl, which is incredible."

"Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur" premieres on Disney Channel on February 10, and on Disney+ on February 15.


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Music in this episode by Blue Dot Sessions.

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Ronia Cabansag is a producer for Stateside. She comes to Michigan Radio from Eastern Michigan University, where she earned a BS in Media Studies & Journalism and English Linguistics with a minor in Computer Science.
Rachel Ishikawa joined Michigan Radio in 2020 as a podcast producer. She produced Kids These Days, a limited-run series that launched in the Summer of 2020.