I knew better as a child. You know, about the whole white only princess rule…Being from Ghana I had a good idea of what royalty looked like, having it in my blood. So at age 10, when my two white friends in the neighborhood gazed looking perplexed at me calling myself a princess I was confident enough to explain my history.
At age 16 I could pronounce long Asante names of distant cousins and ancestors. And at 19 I easily recanted stories passed down through six generations of family. But at 22, now, I finally became perplexed too at the idea of a black princess. Well, not a real one but an animated one.
To be released on December 11th—after Disney’s 75 years of existence— is their first ever-animated movie starring a black princess. If you haven’t heard about it by now it is titled “The Princess and The Frog”. The story is based around a young girl, Tiana, in New Orleans who aspires to own her own restaurant. She soon discovers a frog and kisses him in hopes of good fortune. Instead of finding her prince, her plan backfires and she is turned into a frog too. The movie is her embarking on a colorful journey to become human again.
Besides the unprecedented nature of the film, there are a lot of other things to be excited about. First, the directors chose to use traditional animation instead of the commonly used CGI. In layman’s terms, they sketched out the film instead of computer generating it, paying homage to classic Disney films that were pencil drawn. Second, the voice of Tiana will be Anika Noni Rose; the same actress who played the character of Lorrell Robinson in “Dreamgirls”. Tiana’s mother and father are played by Oprah Winfrey and Terrence Howard.
Overall, from researching the film and watching the trailers, it seems like it will be a special treat for girls and women of all ages. When production began there was controversy over the title and name of the principal character, “The Frog Princess” and “Maddy” respectively, both seeming stereotypical and demeaning. But both names were soon changed and the message was also adjusted for the presumed audience.
Ron Clements, writer and director of the film said about the heroine Tiana, “Her philosophy is that you got to make your own fairy tales come true. Certainly she’s not a character who’s waiting for her prince to rescue her.”I’m not mad at that.
The message seems like a far cry from the days of minstrel-show acting crows in “Dumbo” or lily white princesses awaiting princes who will rescue them. But it doesn’t take away from the fact that Disney took way to long. At the end of the day we just have to find solace in that little girls everywhere will think its normal to live in a world were princesses and first ladies can be black.
Danielle Kwateng’s love affair with writing wasn’t the typical route. There wasn’t a childhood obsession with reading or a massive collection of literature; there was just a void. Raised in South Florida, Danielle saw a need for young black women to have a positive image in magazines that weren’t portrayed on newsstands. Upon entering Howard University, she began to pursue her journalism career working for their daily newspaper. Since then she’s worked for Upscale Magazine, The Washington Post and Uptown Magazine. Her blog, “The Lush Life”, explores the trails, tribulations and utter craziness of being a young black socialite with a moral conscious.