Disney has decided to reanimate scenes from Ralph Breaks the Internet featuring Princess Tiana, following backlash over the character’s appearance. Tiana originally appeared in The Princess and the Frog in 2009, and was notable for being Disney’s first African-American princess. She’s voiced in both films by actress Anika Noni Rose.
Ralph Breaks the Internet will see the characters from the original film – bad guy Ralph (John C. Reilly) and racer turned princess Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman) – leaving the confines of their arcade games for the greater world wide web. There they’ll meet a new cast of characters, including a “tough and talented” racer voiced by Gal Gadot, an algorithm called Yesss who is the heart and soul of a top-trending website voiced by Taraji P. Henson, and a group of Disney princesses.
The scene with the princesses shows the girls lounging and wearing some very cute bedtime attire. However, when the scene was released fans were unhappy with the way Princess Tiana was animated, noticing that her skin appeared lighter, her nose narrower, and her hair texture different. Many called her features “racially ambiguous”, citing that she didn’t look like the same African-American woman she was in her own movie. Disney has taken fans’ criticism seriously, and according to the Wall Street Journal, has chosen to reanimate scenes featuring the character.
Disney animators reportedly worked with voice actress Rose and representatives from Color of Change, a racial justice organization, to adjust the character to look more like her original movie version. Color of Change praised Disney’s decision to “restore Princess Tiana’s image to that of an unapologetically black princess with full lips, dark skin and dark hair.” And the change can already been seen in the latest Ralph Breaks the Internet trailer.
While the change to Tiana’s look should never have happened in the first place, Disney is showing their willingness to listen to fans’ concerns, especially when it comes to racial representation. The animators responding to fans with openness and the desire to correct their mistakes goes a long way for people who just want to see themselves represented in the media they consume. Having an African-American princess isn’t enough, Tiana is important to so many precisely because of the way she looks. Her darker skin tone is a part of that, and Hollywood still has a long way to go when it comes to representing people of all skin tones and sizes.