Dominique Thorne on the Importance of Mentorship With Disney Dreamers Academy and Representation Within MCU

The 2023 Disney Dreamers Academy (DDA) gave 100 high scholars students a life-changing four-day immersive career and leadership experience. Throughout their time at the Most Magical Place on Earth, students participated in career sessions that taught valuable life tools, leadership skills, effective communication techniques, and networking strategies. They also participated in in-depth workshops within their specific dreams and disciplines offered in the fields of business, entertainment, and sciences, and even career opportunities within The Walt Disney Company. While there, celebrity mentors, such as the 2023 ambassador Halle Bailey, gave them words of wisdom on how to keep their inner magic shining as they remain steadfast in their pursuits. 

For years, The Walt Disney Company has been committed to diversifying its resorts, attractions, theme parks, and programs. It's one of the reasons the DDA was birthed. And it's showing up in their films as well, widespread. Dominique Thorne has witnessed it firsthand when she joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Riri Williams/Ironheart in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Ironheart, and Armor Wars. was among a handful of media outlets to attend DDA 2023. While there, we spoke with Thorne about her history-making MCU debut, and she dished on her words of wisdom for the Dreamers, as well as Disney continuing its work with including Black and Brown faces in their projects. 

Media question: Dominique, tell us what you tell other young people who aspire to do what you've done.

I say, first of all, congratulations to y'all on being so bold as to take a leap of faith. And next, I'll say, to trust yourself. You know? You know why you're pursuing what it is that you're pursuing. So take care of that, safeguard that, protect that. And don't ever let all the noise, because there will be noise, distract you from what it is that set you on this journey, to begin with.

Media question: How do you feel DDA aligns with the concept of Black joy?

I completely love that, let me first say, but I think a lot of what I hope to do speaks exactly to that. It's continuing to showcase joy and authenticity, and breaking past the sky is the limit, type idea because now we're operating in outer space and other dimensions. I think any story that continues to push the boundaries of what we know or think to be possible of what we've seen already is definitely something that I hope to be a part of.

Media question: And what has brought you Black joy recently? 

I would say the Dreamers Academy for sure. I think being able to sit in this room and see these kids who are so excited and so passionate and so determined to be the best that they can be. Seeing so many people really step up and rise to the challenge of being all that they are has been one of the most humbling experiences of late. So this has definitely been bringing me a lot of joy.

Media question: How does it feel to be part of Marvel and joining that big, giant universe?

It's so exciting. It's so cool. It's as epic as the universe is. I definitely am a Marvel fan. My family's a Marvel family, so to go from fan to being a part of it is incredible. Getting to add to that and continue to pour into the world, it's fun.

PC: Aside from the diversity and inclusion that we're seeing within the MCU brand, we're also obviously seeing that within Disney overall. We now have DDA Ambassador Halle Bailey as Ariel, H.E.R. as Belle, and even Yara Shahidi as Tinker Bell. But there seems to be a lot more controversy with those characters versus the excitement that Black Panther brought. So how can we continue to combat that? What is your advice as an actor, and also, what is your advice to the dreamers who are here to continue to go for their goals?

I think it's, No. 1, so much love, commending to the actors who are stepping into those roles. I think it's never easy for, I'd say, the large majority to see something that they think they knew to be changed or different.

But I think what most of us or the rest of us know is that in order for us to evolve, in order for us to continue to expand what magic and creativity, and joy looks like, things have to change. Things have to grow. And really, the only thing that's happening when we're seeing black and brown girls step into be these superheroes or these princesses, we're just seeing inclusion. We're getting to see all kids represented and all kids getting to aspire to or look up to what so many people have gotten to associate with love and dreams coming true and excitement and joy. So, it's just bringing more folks into the magic as they should.