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The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Disney Launchpad highlights underrepresented voices

The word Launchpad sits in front of a background, and the final use of the letter “a” in the word is replaced with a camera and a tripod. Disney Launchpad is a program to give young directors the opportunity to share their films. (Disney+ Press)

Beyond mere words or language, voice connects all, the purest most spiritual expression of our souls to our inner thoughts and feelings. 

Often only the voices of those in power are heard, and those who are underrepresented are forgotten and overlooked. 

To help combat this issue, Disney created an initiative to provide a platform, utilizing Disney+, for new creators from diverse and marginalized groups to tell their stories in anthologies of creative short films.   

Season 1 began in 2019 but did not launch on Disney+ until 2021 due the COVID-19 pandemic. Season 2 debuted in September 2023. 

“With a focus on building a more inclusive entertainment industry, Disney is looking for experienced writers and directors from underrepresented backgrounds or those with unique perspectives to produce a short,” Disney said on their website. 

The program is 12 months long and aimed at both writers and directors. As the platform looks for fresh talent, participants cannot have written for or directed a theatrically released feature film or have two or more network or streaming television shows. 


To be considered, applicants must meet base criteria. Applicants must be from a marginalized background or present a unique perspective, eligible for employment in the U.S. and 21 years or older at the start of the program. If applying as a director, applicants must have completed one scripted live-action video project that is at least five minutes long in the past eight years.

Applicants must also answer three 500-word essay questions, submit a work sample video for directors, a script for writers, a resume, sign legal agreements and an optional professional reference letter. 

Co-directing teams of two may be accepted on a case-by-case basis if they have a history of working together. Co-writing applicants may be accepted if they wrote the script together.  

Once accepted, the participants are partnered with mentors from Disney for the duration of the training program and launch platform. Participants will get a chance to get their project on Disney+. 

Some shorts, at Disney’s discretion, may be developed further based on performance and other factors. 

In addition, participants will also take classes with the American Film Institute to build their creative skills. 


The idea behind Launchpad is indeed a noble one. Giving a voice and platform to the underrepresented is important because many times their voices have been overlooked. 

Some of my favorite shorts from the Launchpad include “The Last of The Chupacabras” in Season 1, a short about a Mexican-American woman who is the last of her background and accidentally summons a chupacabra, and “The Roof” in Season 2, in which a young two-spirit teenager from the Northern Cheyenne Tribe learns about his heritage and identity.  

Two-spirit is a term used by some indigenous Americans, such as the Northern Cheyenne, that members may use to identify themselves; it is similar to Westerner LGBTQ+ identities in which an individual may take on roles of multiple genders. However how one can express their  two-spirit identity may vary from person to person or from tribe to tribe.  

While both short films are different in tone, I appreciated the sincerity and spirit in how they were told.  

Identity is a special and complex theme, and to be able to explore it in such a special way is vital for future growth.  

Applications for Season 3 have yet to open, with no release date given.


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