Anika Noni Rose Adds Diva Glitz to Disney

Tony-winning actress hopes to empower a generation

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Anika Noni Rose (Photo by Eric Charbonneau)

Anika Noni Rose is best known as a “Dreamgirl” playing opposite Beyonce Knowles and Jennifer Hudson. But now, as the voice of Tiana, in the animated movie “The “Princess and the Frog” (released in theaters Friday) this former “Dreamgirl” is about to show America what dreams are made of. (Read the review)

The Tony Award winning actress has had the fortune to work with some of the biggest names in Hollywood. In 2008, she played temptress Maggie, opposite James Earl Jones and Phylicia Rashad, in the all-black stage production of “A Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” In 2007, Rose was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for her portrayal of Lorrell Maya Robinson, the third Dreamette and Eddie Murphy’s love interest in the film adaptation of “Dreamgirls.”

Now as Tiana, Disney’s first African American princess, Rose, 37, told BlackEnterprise.com how much she identifies with the character, why the movie will resonate with black girls, and why parents should believe in their children’s dreams.

BlackEnterprise.com: How does it feel to be a part of the Disney family?

Anika Noni Rose: Were I not in heels and a dress I would back flip all over this room. I have always wanted to do a Disney voice. Always since I was a child; since I saw Fantasia it has been a dream of mine. I never in my wildest dreams – and I’m a big dreamer– dreamed that I would be a Disney princess.

You asked the directors to make Princess Tiana left-handed because you are left-handed. How much do you identify with her?

I think that she is the character to whom I’m most similar. I am thrilled with her. I’m not trying to say that I wrote the story, but what I can tell you is that I identify with her innately. I get [her story]. I get the naysayers– people dousing your dreams with oil and trying to light a match. But I also get the climb. I get what it means to want to climb. I get what it is to find those tools or build them yourself. I get her.

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