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I'm Meilin Lee! And ever since I turned 13, I've been doin' my own thing, makin' my own moves; 24/7/365! I wear what I want, say what I want, and I will not hesitate to do a spontaneous cartwheel if I feel so moved!
―Mei Lee's introduction in the opening scene.

Meilin "Mei" Lee (born c. 1989) is one of the main characters of the Disney•Pixar film, Turning Red.

Mei is a Chinese-Canadian, 13-year-old teenage girl living in Toronto, passing through the trials and tribulations of growing up with the added bonus of turning into a massive red panda every time she feels strong emotions, which, when you’re a teenager, is almost all the time. With her friends, Miriam, Priya, and Abby, they have fun and enjoy a popular boy band called 4*Town. She used to be enemies with Tyler, but after he was revealed as a 4*Townie, Mei became best friends with him. Mei has an overprotective mother, Ming. Ming is not certain about Mei's choices such as her favorite band or her friends.


Mei is a loud, dorky, and independent 13-year-old teenage girl who gets really good grades in school and appreciates her life, her family and her best friends.


As a human, Mei is a young fair-skinned 13-year-old teenage girl with short, straight black (later red) hair and bright hazelnut eyes. She also has a turquoise hair clip and silver framed oval-shaped glasses. She usually wears a pink top, a red cardigan, and a pleated denim skirt. She has maroon leggings under her short skirt and gray shoes paired with magenta shoelaces.

As a red panda, Mei has a much larger physique. She has cat-shaped ears, human-like teeth, and she has a red tail striped with white, similar to a raccoon, as well as sharp claws that are mainly hidden.


Having a mystical connection to red pandas, from ancestry, Mei also got passed down the red panda powers along with the rest of her family (excluding her father) from Sun Yee, the revered ancestor.

Mei can turn into a red panda whenever she gets strong emotions such as: excited, sad, angry, and others. Since she needs to calm down in order to stop the red panda from coming, she needs to control her emotions by being with her loved ones and thinking about them.


  • Mei Lee's name translates to "beautiful" in Chinese.
    • Additionally, her family's nickname for her, "Mei-Mei", means "little sister" in Chinese.
  • Mei is the first Asian protagonist in a Pixar movie.
  • Mei is the first female protagonist to wear glasses and the 5th female protagonist (after Merida, Joy, Dory, and Elastigirl) in a Pixar movie.
  • Mei's hair turned from black to red when she first changed into a red panda, so she wore a beanie to hide it.
  • Mei is the 6th Pixar protagonist to have powers.
  • Mei comes clean with the truth to her mom during the fight.
  • Mei notices that Miriam took care of her tamagotchi Robaire Jr. even when she betrayed her friends.
  • When Mei is too scared to defend her friends from her mom, they feel betrayed by her. However, Mei and her friends make up after Mei decides to keep the red panda and go to the concert.
  • Mei's favorite 4*Town member is Robaire because he speaks French and he is originally from Toronto.
  • It is shown in the Deleted Scenes that Mei's parents tried to help her restrain the Panda through various ways, like healthy food or massages.
  • These Deleted Scenes also reveal that Mei is ticklish on her feet, which triggers her transformation.
  • When Mei mentions Miriam to Ming, Ming tells her that girl is odd, causing Mei to become sad.
  • As explained by Mei's mother, the reason she has this power is through an ancestor's mystical connection with red pandas.
    • This is what makes the movie an "anti-fantasy", though not entirely due to Chinese culture predicting they can shapeshift into various mythical creatures of folklore, such as Huli Jings or Wyverns.
  • Mei takes on some real-world red panda traits while transformed:
    • Mei being disgusted by her panda form's scent references how red pandas can release a strong, pungent smell to ward off vicious predators.
    • When Mei gets scared, she instinctively raises her arms; this is used by red pandas when scared to make themselves look larger to predators.
    • Mei can flatten and upward her ears, just like other animals and red pandas. Red pandas do this when they are scared, frightened, or aggressive.
    • As seen, Mei clings onto rooftops, city post lights, and chimneys. This indicates that red pandas are great climbers, even though she is shown to be afraid of heights.
    • Mei tucks up into a ball with her tail hiding her face when she is upset or worried about something. Red pandas, in real life, do this when they're cold and naturally sleep in that position.
  • Mei is represented by the color red, for very obvious reasons. The color signifies the passion, anger, and love that she feels throughout the film. It is also a sign of the womanhood she experiences via her panda transformations. It is also the color that separates her from her friends and appears the most dominantly when she is with them.
  • Mei's digital pet, Robaire Junior, has a resemblance to the Tamagotchi toy.
  • Mei has been compared by many (including Domee Shi and Pete Docter) to Marvel's Hulk because of her power and its nature.
  • The fact that Mei's hair is black at the beginning of the film, but turns red after her Red Panda curse is similar to Susan Murphy the protagonist of DreamWorks Animation's 2009 film Monsters vs Aliens to when Susan Murphy's hair was brown at the beginning of the film, but turned white when she became Ginormica.
    • Another similarity is Zenitsu Agatsuma from the 2016 anime and manga series. Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba when Zeneitsu's hair was black before getting struck by lightning and it turned yellow, later eventually becoming a Demon Slayer.
    • A third similarity is Freddy Lupin from the 2020 comedy film 100% Wolf where his hair was brown in his human form until he came out of a wardrobe transform function to turn into a wolf, but instead turned into a poodle, and his hair turned white/pink.
  • According to an article dedicated to Domee Shi, Mei is going through puberty throughout this film, despite the red panda transforming.
  • Mei does not know Cantonese as she had to ask Mr. Gao what her parents, grandmother and aunties were saying when performing the ritual.
  • Mei's nickname "Mei-Mei" is possibly inspired by Mei Mei, the female Giant panda who is a resident of Panda Village and a passionate ribbon dancer, from DreamWorks' Animation 2016 film Kung Fu Panda 3.
  • Some scenes in the movie featuring Mei have become popular memes on social media, such as:
    • Where Mei starts drawing under her bed.
    • Where Mei yells "AWOOGA!" to Devon outside the Daisy Mart in her red panda form.
    • Where Mei throws a red dodgeball angrily to Tyler.
    • When Mei twerks in red panda Ming's face during the battle sequence (TikTok only).
    • When Mei pours Coca-Cola from a can in her mouth at a daydream in her presentation of 4★Town.
  • Mei compares 4★Town to various musicians such as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven when she wears her mother's signature green blazer.
  • In an earlier version of the film, Mei was going to be the only person in her family that could transform into a red panda after being chosen by the gods. Not only that, but she was also supposed to have a freckled cousin named Leo who could also transform into one. Both their ways of staying human involved doing something that always calmed them. For Mei, it was drinking tea and for Leo, it was having something tight around his wrist to keep him accompanied.
  • According to the official Pixar website, red panda Mei Lee is eight feet tall.
  • So far, Mei is the only Turning Red character to be promoted by McDonald's, as she was included in the Disney 100th Anniversary Celebration collectible set, while the film was not promoted by the chain when Lightyear was released in theaters.