Disney Unveils Its First Black Princess

Anika Noni Rose plays Tiana, a royal entrepreneur

the first African American princess in the franchise. She also marks Disney’s first return to hand drawn animation since the 1998 cartoon Mulan, titled after the Chinese warrior princess.

Princess Tiana will initially stand alone and not be included with Disney products that group the princesses together until the summer of 2010 and after audiences have been fully introduced to her and her story, Franklin says.

“Collectors of first-of-a kind items and black doll collectors, in particular, will readily buy the Princess Tiana doll,” says Debbie Behan Garrett, author of Black Dolls: A Comprehensive Guide to Celebrating, Collecting and Experiencing the Passion. Garrett believes that although most mothers buy dolls that represent their child’s ethnicity, the fact that the doll is the first African American Princess created by a company with Disney’s stature will help it transcend race and doll-buying trends.

In addition to toys, Disney will also introduce an extensive line of apparel, accessories, home décor, consumer electronics, school supplies, and personal care products inspired by the characters.

Princess Tiana’s preliminary debut in 2007 did not go over smoothly. An earlier draft of the story entitled The Frog Princess allegedly described Tiana as a chambermaid named Maddy. This characterization was upsetting to some in the black community, who were indignant to learn that the first black princess started out as a servant with a name that, when enunciated closely, resembled the name Mammy, which was used to degrade black women.

Pages: 1 2