Black female artists are throwing their hats in the ring for the potential casting of Princess Tiana as rumors swirl around a Disney The Princess and the Frog live-action movie remake.
It’s been more than a decade since Disney’s first animated Black princess, featuring Tony award-winning actress Anika Noni Rose, graced our screens — bringing color to the previously vanilla worlds of Disney princess films featuring Ariel, Aurora and Belle.
Walt Disney’s 49th animated film based on the Brothers Grimm story, The Frog Prince, was released to praise and controversy in 2009. Set in 1920s New Orleans, a stunning emerald gown, a classy updo and a diamond tiara were black girls’ first glimpse of Disney royalty in the form of a headstrong, aspiring restauranteur turned princess.
It was a historic first for Disney, as their last animated picture to feature an African American character was in 1946’s “Song of the South.” The offensive Reconstruction-era feature starred the black help as side characters to the primary storyline of a happy white family on a Georgia plantation.
The Princess and the Frog is making its rounds back in the limelight. Splash Mountain is being rethemed to Tiana’s Bayou Adventure in Disneyland and Disney World, and a new restaurant is being fashioned after Tiana’s Palace. Then, Disney+ teased a series as a sequel of sorts back in 2020, hoping to appeal to the film’s notable impact on Black Gen Z and Millennial youth growing up.
We have since seen these fictional worlds touched by diversity, with the casting of prominent Black women in remakes of the live-action Little Mermaid, the live-action special of Beauty and the Beast and the upcoming Peter Pan and Wendy film. With Halle Bailey as Ariel, singer H.E.R as Belle and Yara Shahidi as Tinkerbell, it is simply good business for Disney to pursue casting for this live-action movie, especially now that the hyped-up The Princess and the Frog series has been vaguely pushed back to simply “Coming soon to Disney+.”
Rose has remained tight-lipped about the potential of a remake, but eagle-eyed fans have a front-row seat to a plethora of singers more than qualified and just as eager to take on the iconic role. Specifically, the news has brought Black singers like R&B stars Ari Lennox and Coco Jones out of the woodwork, taking to social media and tagging Disney in what is essentially their audition tapes. Their videos feature renditions of the film’s popular song, “Almost There.”
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Most recently, jazz artist and Bronx native Samara Joy stunned Instagram viewers with her post of the iconic tune, hoping, like many, for a chance to be the new Tiana.
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The 2023 Best New Artist Grammy winner and “silky-voiced rising star” is known for breathing new life into our favorite songs for her booming TikTok following, which has seen her performing everywhere from The Kelly Clarkson Show and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to the Jennifer Hudson Show and the Drew Barrymore Show. As a “classic jazz singer from a new generation,” Joy could fit the persona of Tiana, who was born and raised in what is hailed as the birthplace of jazz itself.
Black Twitter is raving at the idea of a remake, debating and sharing their takes on the best person to play Tiana, as well as others of the legendary cast.
Who would you like to see embody the iconic role in a live-action remake of The Princess and the Frog?