Is Disney doing a good job portraying a diverse cast of characters in its animated movies? That was the question Ithaca College assistant professor Chrissy Guest discusses on National Public Radio’s 1A

Chrissy was part of the program’s panel, one that also included Common Sense Media CEO Jim Steyer and Slate culture writer Aisha Harris. Chrissy is well versed in the subject; her documentary film Beyond Ink & Paint: The Women of Animation explores the victories and challenges of women who have helped shape the industry. 

On the program, Chrissy commends Disney’s Moana for telling an empowering story about a young girl. 

“We’ve seen that Disney as a company has really been trying to embrace at least gender diversity not only on-screen, but behind the scenes, and that’s evident in Moana in the sense that it’s a story about a young girl. It’s really about her relationship with her grandmother, with leadership, leadership qualities, and being told over and over again you can’t do something, and still doing it.” 

However, Chrissy acknowledged that many female characters are still stereotypical Disney princesses and that much progress remains to be made. She pointed out that over 60 percent of animation students today are women, which may lead to positive changes. 

“Those students are in a great position to start identifying where problems lie in representation on screen and in the way that they’re being taught to animate,” Chrissy says.