By: Leslie Monet
What goes down in the DM’s doesn’t always stay there and this time it’s for the greater good. The first ever black Disney princess, played by none other than Tony-Award winner Anika Noni Rose, bore the burden of protecting the blackness her character so beautifully depicted in the classic animation feature, The Princess and the Frog.
After the trailer of Wreck-It Ralph 2 was released in June of this year, fans caught a whiff of the remarkably whiter version of the black princess and hit up Anika steadily; including via her DM’s on Instagram. “Aside from my personal feelings, I noted how people felt online (and in my dms) and I was glad to see that people are still very much in love with and supportive of our Princess”, Rose disclosed to her followers. However, assuming the politically correct role didn’t stop the Connecticut-born singer and actress from pulling up on Disney to address the issue face-to-’brown’-face.
During the meeting, Rose made clear to the animators the negative impact the drastic ‘tone and shape’ alterations of the original will have on admirers of Princess Tiana, writing:
“When we were making Princess and The Frog I’ll never forget Mark [the Princess and The Frog animator] asking me if there were any things I wished to see on her; and among the first things I said were a round nose, full lips, and that she be left handed. He made certain to incorporate these things as he created my likeness as a Princess then…”
With assertion, Rose sparked flames and created change. According to Rose, Disney gave a rebuttal explaining how “CGI animation did different things to the characters’ color tones in a different light compared to hand-drawn original characters”. Computer-generated imagery or not, the problem got solved and the Princess is back like she never left.