Anika Noni Rose is, of course, the first Black Disney princess as the voice of The Princess and the Frog‘s Princess Tiana. She’s covering more historic ground in Netflix’s holiday fantasy Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey as Jessica, one of the many characters in this Black-majority cast.
With Rose breaking the glass ceiling at Disney and continues to break the mold with Jingle Jangle, the company has invested more in Black princesses and fantasy characters, such as Halle Bailey taking on the live-action role of Ariel in an upcoming The Little Mermaid reboot and Yara Shahidi playing Tinkerbell in the upcoming live-action Peter Pan film. Rose said that roles like hers, Bailey and Shahidi are important for child audiences when it comes to self-esteem.
“I am a firm proponent of the fact that children need to see themselves in fantasy. They need to know that they exist in the whimsical, that they exist in magic. That they are worthy of the crown,” she said to Shadow And Act’s Trey Mangum. “It’s really important that they know that. It’s important that we see ourselves that way and it’s important that our children’s peers get to see them that way because it changes the DNA in children in the way that they are able to move through the world and it changes the way that their peers expect to see them.”
“It is my deep hope that it allows children who see us within their fantasy–whether it’s our children or other children–expect to see us in all facets of life, and that is how it should be, because we are in all facets of life, and we can be in all facets of life,” she continued.
You can watch the full interview below.