I am, and have always been, a huge Disney fan. I love the movies, I love the tv shows, I love the toys, I love the books, I love Disneyland…you get the idea.
But since we started expanding our family through adoption, it is has consistently bothered me that Disney and their fabulous line of “Princesses”, adored by almost all of the little girls I know (especially my own little girls!), did not have any African or African American princesses.
We have a mermaid with red hair and fair skin, Mulan with her beautiful Chinese features, Jasmine with her beautiful Indian/Middle Eastern features, Pocahantas with her beautiful Native American features and all sorts of lovely white-skinned princesses with hair of all shades. But no black princesses.
The Frog Princess is an animated film currently in development by Walt Disney Feature Animation. It will be the first traditionally animated (2-D) feature film in Disney’s animated features canon since 2004’s Home on the Range. It will be directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, with music composed by Randy Newman.
Sources have revealed that the film will be an American fairy tale musical set in New Orleans during the 1920s Jazz Age, and the leading character, Maddy, will be the first African American Disney princess.
I love the idea of not only a black Princess, but an African American princess, and I am really looking forward to this movie and all of the wonderful Disney propaganda that comes along with their movies…to come around. I love that all of my girls will have a Disney princess that “looks like them.”
From the Wikipedia page, here is the list of characters for the casting call,
• Maddy – A 19-year-old African American chambermaid.
• Charlotte La Bouff – An 18-year-old spoiled, southern debutante and diva.
• Dr. Duvalier – An African American Voodoo magician/fortune teller. The villain of the movie.
• Mama Odie – An elderly, 200-year-old African American Voodoo priestess/fairy god-mother.
• Ray – A lovesick Cajun firefly.
• Louis – A Jazz singer alligator.
• Prince Harry – A gregarious, fun-loving European Prince, in his early twenties.
• Lawrence – Prince Harry’s pompous valet.
• Big Daddy La Bouff – Wealthy, Southern plantation landowner and father of Charlotte La Bouff.
• Eudora – Maddy’s mother. In her fifties. Used to be Charlotte’s nurse maid.
• George – The La Bouff family’s African American cook.
Now of course I have no clue if this is true or not, but in looking at the cast list here, the “Princess” lead is obviously Maddy, and the only prince mentioned is Prince Harry, who is described as “European”. Do we think Disney could also be having a transracial love story?? Interesting!
And since it is taking place in the 1920’s, and there is a black cook for a white family, is seems that it will be dealing with some issues of slavery as well. Of course it will all be watered-down and on a child’s level, but I think it’s great.
Anyway, I give three cheers to Disney for FINALLY recognizing and doing something about the need for a black Princess.
For fun, here is the plot summary to the fairy tale the “Frog Princess”. It will be fun to see how Disney changes it and makes it their own.
The king sets his three sons (or an old peasant woman, her sons) to marry, and tests their chosen brides. The king may set them to shoot arrows and find their brides where the arrows land, and the youngest prince’s arrow is picked up by a frog; the two older sons may already have girls picked out, but the youngest son — often Ivan Tsarevich — is at a loss until a friendly frog takes pity on him and offers to marry him.
The king then assigns his three prospective daughters-in-law various tasks, such as spinning cloth and baking bread. In every task the frog far outdoes the lazy brides-to-be of the older brothers. Still, the young prince is ashamed of his froggy bride, until she magically is transformed into a princess. In some versions of the story, the transformation is a reward for her good nature; in others, she is transformed by witches out of amusement; and in others, she is revealed to have been an enchanted princess all along.
Definitely something to look forward to in 2008!