Historically, Walt Disney Studio has had a less than savory record regarding images of African Americans in its animated works, so it was with great excitement that the Black community received the media giant’s first Black princess – well, after Disney tweaked the role here and there following a healthy dose of Black outrage.
For example, the studio was pressured to change the princess’ name from Maddy (which sounded to many Blacks a little too much like the stereotypical “Mammy”) to Tiana and switched her occupation from a maid to an aspiring restaurant owner.
But Disney isn’t off the hook yet, critics say, pointing out that the main character in "The Princess and the Frog" has been paired with a White guy.
Although the animated Christmas film seems a far cry from the days when Disney portrayed Blacks as naked, big-lipped, bone-in-the-nose cannibals, the company still refuses to present the image of a happy African-American woman in a relationship with a strong Black man, critics argue.
Anika Noni Rose, who starred in Dreamgirls, voices Tiana, while talk-show host Oprah Winfrey will play Tiana’s mother. Tiana’s love interest will be voiced by Bruno Campos, a Brazilian actor.