Wanna know some The Proud Family secrets?

On Sept. 15, 2001, the world of animation as the world knew it changed forever. As cable’s first Black animated series, The Proud Family not only broke barriers but became the blueprint for shows to come, allowing so many families to see themselves reflected through Penny Proud (Kyla Pratt) and her beloved family.

Now, nearly 21 years later, The Proud Family is back in the world of streaming through The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder, which debuted on Disney+ back in February. Some of the cast and crew responsible for the iconic series took the Center Stage at the 2022 Essence Festival of Culture to commemorate the show, celebrate the changes in the new adaptation and give insight into what it’s like to be part of such a groundbreaking moment in television.

"I think the thing that makes me the happiest about 'The Proud Family' and 'The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder' is the fact that we stuck to family," said Jo Marie Payton, the voice of Suga Mama.

“Family was important and it makes us understand, from our viewing audience and everybody else, that no matter what happens, family is still important,” she continued. “We have that three generational thing, so you got the mom and the dad and the kids and the grandma, and strangely enough COVID has sent us back there. I just moved back in with my daughter to help raise her granddaughter, so we’re kind of stepping back in time, but moving up to the future, doing what’s important.”

For Paula Jai White, the voice of Trudy Proud, her role in The Proud Family is a dream come true.

“I grew up watching Mickey Mouse so to grow up and become a part of the Disney family is a dream come true,” she expressed.

"To be able to promote the Black family and like Miss Jo Marie said, we're all the Proud family, so we're not just promoting Blackness, but we are and it's a beautiful thing," White exclaimed.

“That’s what I’m most excited about, being able to express our truth, the fact that we don’t turn our elders away. I love that the Proud family accepts everyone from Bobby, Cedric the Entertainer, to Suga Mama, to episodes about my family, the in-laws,” she continued.

At one point during the conversation, show creators Ralph Farquhar and Bruce W. Smith answered the question that has been posed for years… why doesn’t iconic character Wizard Kelly have a face?

“From the very beginning Bruce and I [have written] this show like a sitcom,” Farquhar explained. “Bruce would come into the room we were breaking a new character, I remember Wizard Kelly, and Bruce just sat on the side and started drawing. This guy was so tall we never saw his face completely.”

"This guy is so tall, I ran out of paper, [which is] basically why he doesn't have a head because I ran out of paper," Smith revealed.

“The minute he did that, we knew where to take this character and this is an exchange we have,” Farquhar continued. “We give him the character, he gives us the visual.”

Now, just over two decades later the same process works on the new installment of the hit animated series. This dynamic duo’s strategy continues to be the blueprint for the show.

"It's like the writing inspires the art and the art turns around and inspires the writing and we just kind of feed back and forth off of that," Smith shared.

“And it just simply made that world much more concrete and believable and real and the characters are real and so when you watch the show, you’ll see a lot of easter eggs that sometimes aren’t even in the script but the artist gets so inspired by the moments that they just start dropping small things within the script that go back to the first season or also relate to certain things that are happening right now,” he continued.

The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder season 1 is currently available for streaming on Disney+. Season 2 is on the way.