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Hello Beautiful recently sat down for an interview with Anika Noni Rose, star of Disney’s upcoming animated feature, “The Princess and the Frog.” Anika is the voice of Tianna, who makes her debut as Disney’s first African American princess. The movie revamps the classic Brothers Grimm story, “The Frog Prince,” though it is based in New Orleans and features a cast of mostly African American characters. The amazingly poised and regal Anika described the depth of Tianna’s character, her own sense of responsibility in taking on the historic role, and her experience in New Orleans. Check out part I of the full interview below:

HELLO BEAUTIFUL: What was your most memorable Disney animation?

ANIKA NONI ROSE: I’d have to say that the first thing that I felt shaped my consciousness was “Fantasia.” I loved that movie, I saw it when I was 2 for the first time. When I think about the dandelion puffs that turned into fairies, the creativity, who decided that? I just think it’s a beautiful way to introduce kids to music. Disney just does it like no one else.

HB: Disney is rich in tradition and is known for having the figure of the “princess in peril.” Though, this movie has made a transition away from that figure, to one that’s more driven and ambitious. How was it for you, being amongst the first to take part in the transition of the Disney princess to a more aggressive figure?


Check out this impressive “Princess And The Frog” window display at the Chicago Disney store:

ANIKA: I wouldn’t call her aggressive, I would call her clear. I think that she has a huge dream but she’s still a lady, she’s still soft, she’s still wishing on a star. She has that youth about her. But she’s also someone who is very focused, so she has a plan. And she’s been brought up in a way that her family was very loving and very supportive, and there was never a doubt in her mind as a child that this thing that she wanted, if she worked hard for it, wouldn’t come to pass. I think that’s a wonderful thing for girls and boys as a message, particularly now when things appear-in our society-to come so easily. There’s a lot of work involved in the overnight success. I think it is a dangerous image that we show, and it’s important for us to talk about how you get there, what steps to take, how to educate yourself to be able to attract your dream. But it’s also important when you think about parents.

It’s very, very beautiful and poignant to me to have a family where parents support a child’s dream. I think that all parents should support their children, believe in their children. Whether you believe in the dream itself or not, whether you believe that they’re going to make it or be able to do it or not. Believe in them and let them know because you give them boosters when you do that. And the dream might change and the journey may change. But what will never change is knowing that somebody believes in them above all others. We have so many times in life for people to knock us down. I think that it’s a beautiful thing that [the movie] shows that.


Take a look at the trailer for the movie below:

HB: This role is phenomenal. The fact that it’s the first black princess, as little girls we didn’t get to envision that. What does it mean to you?

ANIKA: To be in the role is quite an honor. Its quite a blessing to be able to carry this mantle and able to force her into reality. Its so amazing to me because I think that we as adults have a different feeling about [Princess Tianna]. When the babies are walking into the theater it’s just what it is. It’s not something they have to think about, its not something they’re pondering, It will never ever be something that will have to be new and special again. That is phenomenal because we are no longer a homogeneous society, and we really weren’t when we were pretending we were. It’s important for us to show these images because they are very much a part of our lives as Americans. And when you touch a child in their fantasy life it really affects their reality. It sounds big and it sounds silly, and someone is probably saying come on Anika its just a cartoon…Fantasy life to me is extraordinarily important to be fully representative so that people can envision themselves in the future.

See the first 5 minutes of the movie here:

Click here for a sneak peek at “The Princess And The Frog”!

Is Disney’s first Black princess really Black?