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Bigots Targeting Elemental Actor For Playing a Nonbinary Character

Bigots Targeting Elemental Actor For Playing a Nonbinary Character

Ember and Wade in 'Elemental.'
Courtesy of Disney

Pixar's first-ever nonbinary character is making waves — but with the wrong crowd.

Disney and Pixar’s newly-released animated film Elemental breaks new ground with its inclusion of a nonbinary character, but this is also causing a sadly predictable backlash from bigots who insist on making their voices heard.

The film takes place in a city where fire, air, water, and earth “elementals” all live together. It centers on the story of Ember and Wade, “a fiery young woman and a go-with-the-flow guy” discovering that they have more in common than they thought.

While Disney has nodded toward inclusivity in the past, Elemental marks the studio's first-ever nonbinary character — and they’re voiced by a nonbinary actor too!

Ava Kai Hauser voices nonbinary water elemental Lake Ripple. Lake is Wade’s younger sibling who uses they/them pronouns and has a partner they met in art school.

The animated film manages to bring together humor and real LGBTQ+ representation all wrapped up in a heartwarming story that touches on themes of family and immigration.

Hauser took to Twitter on June 16 to announce their role which premiered during Pride Month, writing, “I got to play Pixar’s first non-binary character! Meet Lake!”

Many fans left jubilant comments on Hauser’s post, thanking them for bringing Lake to life.


“Had no idea Lake was Trans non-binary – so cool!” wrote another. “Pixar movies always make me feel comfortable and cozy and now #Elemental just became extra comfortable and cozy!”

Although most of the comments were glowing, there was some criticism of Lake only being a side character. “Just honestly tho… it feels like Disney is relegating the queer community to editable characters to remove them in anti-LGBTQ countries and areas. Just feels like they’re pulling a ‘first queer’ again,” one commenter said.

But Hauser had a thoughtful response to the criticism, writing, “I understand the sentiment. It's so hard for us to be treated in media as something non political vs just being people. 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.”

While the queer representation in the film is a milestone for the animation studio, it only took in $29.6 million when it debuted in theaters on June 16, marking the worst three-day weekend start in the company’s history, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

On top of the somewhat dismal opening weekend box office, bigots also swarmed social media with hateful messages about the film’s inclusivity, mostly directed toward Hauser.

Twitter user @ExposeDarkDeeds wrote, “Disney Pixar's latest film "Elemental" has a non-binary character who has a girlfriend and uses they/them pronouns. They just can't stop shoving this down kid's throats can they? Also it looks like the animators were smoking crack when they designed this.”

Another hateful commenter said, “The activists at @Disney don’t care if the company loses money. They expressly stated their intention to insert this into every movie. The management team should be sued for violation of their fiduciary duty.”

Elemental is in theaters now and Pixar’s next film Elio is set to release in March 2024.

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