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It’s been over 30 years since the debut of X-Men: The Animated Series, and the cartoon’s impact can still be felt today. Marvel’s hit animated series introduced dozens of viewers to the X-Men, a group of mutants with special powers. The show was a primer on many of the iconic X-Men members, including the young mallrat Jubilee. If you watched X-Men: The Animated Series, then you would have learned about Jubilee’s firework powers, her youthful attitude, and her love for the mall. However, there’s one thing the animated series didn’t include – her Asian heritage.
During a panel at the Uncanny Experience fan event, Jubilee voice actress Alyson Court reflected on landing the role. “At the time of my audition I didn’t know anything about the X-Men, but I think in a way that played to my favor. During the two-part introduction to the series, she’s the fish-out-of-water - there’s also not understanding what’s going on with your body, which at the time I could totally relate to as well.”
“I actually didn’t know that she was Asian,” Court continued. “It was never mentioned in her character description. It was never something that was focused on. It was actually years later that I found out she was Asian-American.”
In recent years, the animation industry has become more conscious of how often white actors are cast in minority roles. As a result of these conversations, animated shows like The Simpsons and Big Mouth have recast some of their characters, hiring voice actors who are closer to the cultural background of their characters.
Upon learning of Jubilee’s heritage, Court worried that Asian fans might have been offended by her performance. The actress was relieved to see that wasn’t the case. “Not a single one ever gave me grief. They have always come up and said thank you for voicing that character. The first thing I do is say ‘I’m sorry, and it wasn’t meant to be bad.’ And they said ‘No, are you crazy? I didn’t care, having her on screen meant the world to me. You have no idea how important it was having her on the show. Thank you for what you brought to the character.’ Having the opportunity to play a character that resonated to such an underrepresented demographic meant the world to me.”
Although Court is proud of her time as Jubilee, she won’t be returning to the role for the sequel series X-Men ’97. The role will be played by Holly Chou, an Asian voice actress. “I’m in a position now where I have the opportunity to step aside and say ‘It’s time,’ because there are incredible Asian-American actors who should have the opportunity to play Jubilee. I couldn’t be prouder to step aside and hand over the torch,” Court said.
X-Men ’97 premieres on Disney+ in 2024.