Walt Disney Pictures is bringing to the big screen a classic tale, with a new twist – and a new hue. This weekend the animated feature “The Princess and the Frog” opens in theaters nationwide, introducing a new princess to Disney’s royal court, named Tiana.
Princess Tiana is a young African American girl in 1920s New Orleans who gives a frog prince a kiss in hopes of breaking a spell, but instead of turning the frog back into a handsome suitor, she is turned into a frog, too.
The film features the voices of Anika Noni Rose (“Dreamgirls”) as Tiana and Terrence Howard as her supportive father James. The two actors told reporters that they are extremely proud of the film and glad to have been a part of its historic precedence.
“I think it will mean different things to different people,” Rose said of audiences taking in a Disney princess with brown skin. “It will mean different things depending on what time they grew up in. For my nephew, it will be the norm. He will think nothing of it. It will be his first princess. For my mother, it will be something she’s been waiting for. For my grandmother, it will be something that she never thought would happen.”
With Snow White, Cinderella, Belle, Arial, Pocahontas, Jasmine, and Mulan on the roster, Disney’s latest star could mean a lot more to some audience members.
“Each person that sits in that theater will have a different journey that they’re bringing to the story and it will make the story different for them, and that’s beautiful because Disney is Americana and we have simply opened a new chapter in Americana; something that’s been here for a very long time, but hasn’t been shared. It’s just another step in the completion of in this fantasy world,” she said.
Co-star Howard agreed that the character comes right on time.
“When they began the production and initial talks on this film, Barack Obama wasn’t in the White House. So it is very apropos that we have two African American princesses (Sasha and Malia) at the same time that this movie is coming out,” he noted.
Rose said that she recalls watching the other Disney princess films and enjoying them, but did admit that she was waiting for one that looked like her.
“I remember watching the movies and loving them,” she confessed, “but I do remember wondering if there would ever be a ‘Chocolate Brown,’ like Snow White.”
Rose continued that she didn’t necessarily feel deprived, but she did recall a certain sensation when she saw the 1978 television special “Cindy” starring Charlayne Woodard. The production was an interpretation of the “Cinderella” fairy tale with an all-black cast.
“It was Cinderella and it wasn’t something that I thought was the norm,” Rose said. “I remember that.”
Perhaps because it was a wish come true that Rose was so emotional about the film. She said that when she first saw a scene from the film, she was taken back.
“I couldn’t even breathe,” she said. “I just started to cry. It was the most amazing, awesome … I don’t even know I have real words for it because every time something happens and we do something different, I have a new experience. This is something that I’ve always dreamed of doing. I didn’t dream of being a princess. I could’ve been a dandelion. I would have been really happy. So this is like when your dreams take off and become bigger than what you had imagined. It was amazing.”
For Rose, it was a breathless dream. For Howard, it was an effortless role.
“This was one of the easiest roles I’ve ever done because I was talking to my own little girls,” he said. “I’ve got two daughters who are my princesses. The [writers] gave me the words to say, but the inspiration of how to say it come from a natural inclination to teach my own children.”
“There has always been nobility in every culture and every race just as there has been genius in every culture and every race and it’s nice to have Disney platform that,” he added.
“The Princess and the Frog” opens today. For more on the film, visit http://www.disney.go.com.
Article courtesy of: eurweb.com