Dianne Doan gained fame last year when she starred in Disney’s hit TV-movie Descendants as Lonnie, the daughter of Mulan. Now the actress has joined the cast of History’s original series Vikings as Yidu, a newly acquired slave who catches the eye of Ragnar (Travis Fimmel, pictured above with Dianne).
Starpulse spoke to Dianne recently to see what she could tell us about how her character joins the world of Vikings, how she prepared for the role, and how Yidu’s relationship with Ragnar is different from the previous bond between Ragnar and Athelstan (George Blagden).
“I’m kidnapped on the Red Sea and then brought to Paris,” she explained, “and it’s presumed that from their raid last season, they bring me back to Kattegat where I’m sold to Queen Aslaug [Alyssa Sutherland] as a slave, so I’m one of her new ladies for this season.
“I definitely did research for my character,” Dianne continued, “just to make sure that I knew what era and what dynasty I come from, the rights that women had during that time, how I would react in certain situations. I wanted to bring that.
“What was fascinating to me was I found out during that research that in fact, women at that time in my dynasty had a voice and had an opinion and had rights to an education. I wanted to make sure that Yidu was a strong character coming into the show even though in certain circumstances, she’s a slave.”
But Vikings has already had a similar story arc, in how Ragnar befriended and ultimately liberated Athelstan. So how is the relationship he’s building with Yidu going to be different from what fans have previously seen?
“Athelstan meant so much to Ragnar. I don’t know if it would be parallel like a repetition of that relationship,” Dianne said, telling us that episodes four and five are important for her character. “I do think that you will see some sort of relationship, whether it’s intimate, unfold between Yidu and Ragnar.
“I would like to assume that it is like I’m a confidante of sorts, just because he is so alone in Kattegat. He doesn’t feel like he has anybody to talk to. Everybody just talks at him and not with him, if that makes sense.”
Vikings airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. on History.