Princess Tiana voice actor Anika Noni Rose has broken her silence on the “Ralph Breaks the Internet” whitewashing controversy, admitting she met with Disney to discuss the importance of representation.
The Dreamgirls star voiced the first African-American Disney Princess in 2009’s The Princess and the Frog, and has reprised her voice role for Princess Tiana’s upcoming appearance in Wreck-It Ralph sequel, Ralph Breaks the Internet.
The animation hit headlines in August (18) after a trailer dropped, showing Tiana looking distinctively different from her first outing, with a smaller and thinner nose and lighter skin, while her previous tight, kinky hair had been smoothed out into looser European curls – leading many critics to call out Disney for whitewashing the character.
It was reported over the weekend (22-23Sep18) that the backlash had prompted Disney animators to redo the artwork for Tiana ahead of the film’s release in November.
Anika has now broken her silence, revealing she was “surprised” to see Tiana’s new look, and immediately called the studio to discuss it. She also paid a visit to Disney Animation in Burbank, California in early September for a meeting alongside Tiana’s original animator Mark Henn.
“They explained how CGI (computer-generated imagery) animation did different things to the characters’ color tones in different light compared to hand drawn original characters,” she wrote on Instagram. “I was able to express how important it is to the little girls (and let’s face it, grown women) who felt represented by her that her skin tone stay as rich as it had been, and that the nose continue to be the little round nose that Mark so beautifully rendered in the movie; the same nose on my very own face and on my other little brown faces around the world, that we so rarely get to see represented in fantasy.
“He (Mark) sat with me in this meeting showing me the steps they were taking to bring those things back that got lost in the move from hand drawn to CGI.”
The 46-year-old praised Disney for taking the time to give her a presentation on the CGI process, to have “an open dialogue about legacy and representation” and to put time and money into reworking the artwork so far into the post-production stage.
“In doing so, they recognize that her legacy is also their legacy; two things I’ve very proud to be a part of,” she concluded, sharing a picture of her outside Disney Animation. “Thank you for continuing to love and support Princess Tiana. I’m sure you know that she loves you right back.”
– Cover Media0