Disney has decided to go back to the drawing board to restore a princess to her former glory after receiving widespread backlash over whitening her visage.
Back in August, when Entertainment Weekly shared a still of the Disney princesses all lounging around in jammies for Wreck-it Ralph 2: Ralph Breaks the Internet, a controversial image took center stage—that of Princess Tiana of The Princess and the Frog who seemed conspicuously lighter and more Euro-centric than in her original movie.
While all the princesses received a more modern, digitized tweaking for the Wreck-it Ralph sequel, Tiana was almost unrecognizable:
Fans reacted with shock and frustration, feeling the new Princess Tiana not only exposed a kind of whitewashing on the part of Disney but also highlighted the need for more people of color in their animation departments, specifically black women:
This is what Tiana shoulda been looking like. Hire Black woman animators for accuracy. https://t.co/rYw04jHhHw
— WhatFreshHellisThis (@LisaBolekaja) August 11, 2018
I see a lot of nonblack ppl praising how Tiana's hair as “positive” representation so it's clear A LOT of ppl don't know anything abt black hair textures. Here's a art tutorial explaining the issue:
— Taylor Goethe (@InspectorNerd) August 10, 2018
why does princess tiana look so different from the wreck it ralph trailer we got 2 months ago to today’s new still……….let me know pic.twitter.com/h63b4DXE03
— ً (@thebaudeIaires) August 9, 2018
So, um…is this supposed to be Princess Tiana in Wreck it Ralph 2? pic.twitter.com/LxBkKjK6zw
— The Great Blaxby. (@HunseckerProxy) August 9, 2018
Advocates took to social media to raise awareness and call out Disney’s attempt at whitewashing, including the advocacy group, Color of Change (COC). One of the COC’s initiatives (the one which Princess Tiana’s representation in Hollywood and media as a black woman falls under) is the Hollywood Culture Project.
According to Color of Change’s website:
The Hollywood Culture Project is an initiative to change the rules in Hollywood, ensuring accurate, diverse, empathetic and human portrayals of Black people on television and throughout the media landscape.
Founded by James Rucker and Van Jones in 2005, Color Of Change (CoC) is self-described as the “nation’s largest online racial justice organization,” working for racial justice and equality using an integrated strategic approach to combat systemic racism.
As it says in CoC’s mission statement:
We mobilize our members to end practices and systems that unfairly hold Black people back, and champion solutions that move us all forward.
And mobilize they did—Disney heard the criticism and decided to review the issues and feedback from the black community. According to The Wall Street Journal, Disney animators recently sat down with actress Anika Noni Rose (who voiced Princess Tiana in the 2009 movie) and representatives from the COC in order to ensure that concerns were addressed properly throughout the reanimation process by including black perspectives and voices in what changes would be made to the character and her scenes.
The COC couldn’t have been happier about their win for representation for black women and girls everywhere:
Huge win for Black girls who look up to Princess Tiana! After conversations with @Disney & @DisneyAnimation about the character's appearance in #WreckItRalph2, they addressed our concerns and restored Tiana to her original depiction. #RepresentationMatters https://t.co/lN8j4OA95N
— ColorOfChange.org (@ColorOfChange) September 21, 2018
Big news. Because of COC members and convos with @DisneyAnimation, Princess Tiana has been restored to her original depiction. Now when Black girls watch #WreckItRalph2, they’ll see Tiana and other princess of color that actually looks like them on screen #BlackGirlMagic pic.twitter.com/4ZPJm4aZyz
— Rashad Robinson (@rashadrobinson) September 20, 2018
According to USA Today, Color of Change sent a statement praising Disney animators:
Disney’s decision to restore Princess Tiana’s image to that of an unapologetically Black princess with full lips, dark skin and dark hair in Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2 is a victory for Color Of Change members, Black children and their parents, and Black audiences who want to see the variety of shades, shapes and sizes of Black characters accurately represented in the arts.
Now, those same fans are singing the praises of the COC and of a studio who listened to their concerns and has promised to make it right.
I know this is a huge win for Black girls & don’t want to take away from your hard work. However as a mixed race/different shade of brown you gave us a win too Not all my features are Caucasian like my nose & I have fuller lips (I love) too. So THANK YOU SO MUCH
— Tripolar Mama (@tripolar_mama) September 24, 2018
Great job! People don't realize how small things like this make a difference. Young black girls need to know they are beautiful, no matter what their skin color or hair texture is.
— Kelvin Exum (@camron28551) September 24, 2018
— Byron.Linnell (@ByronLinnell) September 20, 2018
Just watched the new Wreck It Ralph trailer and:
1. Thank you for making Princess Tiana her actual color again. Should’ve never changed that to begin with
2. Movie looks dope. Trying to go see it with somebody’s daughter
— Tittynope of Tolerance (@Only_After_Ours) September 21, 2018
This is awesome! Great work @ColorOfChange
— Todd Reeber (@treeber29) September 21, 2018
Here’s the latest trailer: