Raven-Symone Talks ‘Tinkerbell’ Movie, Blogs, Willow Smith & Embracing Her Thickness
Raven-Symone entered the hearts of American families in the late ’80s when she was introduced as wunderkind Olivia Kendall, on The Cosby Show. But she’s since blossomed into an award winning actress, singer, sometimes rapper and well-rounded businesswoman. Now 24, Raven-Symone has managed to avoid the typical Hollywood vices like drugs and over partying, which have led some of her peers to DUI charges and TMZ headlines galore.
Although her latest TV franchises, The Cheetah Girls and That’s So Raven, have been off the air for a few years, Raven-Symone keeps herself busy by reading scripts, working on music and most recently, voiceover work. Her latest project is voicing Iridessa, a sweet-natured fairy in Disney’s Tinkerbell and the Great Fairy Rescue, a straight to DVD film that hits stores on Sept. 21. In addition, the feisty actress has her sites set on playing Janet Jackson in a biopic, pushing for Kill Bill 2 and bucking the Tinsel Town machine when it comes to image⎯i.e., she refuses to look a certain way just to get a movie role. VIBE caught up with the former child star to talk about how she maintains confidence, working on her own terms, advice for Willow Smith, and Raven delivers a special message to sensational blogs and the commentors who love them. ⎯Starrene Rhett
VIBE: Talk about your role in the Tinkerbell movie.
Raven-Symone: I play Iridessa in the new movie, Tinkerbell and the Great Fairy Rescue. I play an African American fairy who is one of Tinerkbell’s best friends. She’s a light fairy, which means she makes the rainbows come alive and that the fireflies have those little lights on their butts and so many other things and in this installment of Tinkerbel,l they need to rescue Tink from her first encounter with humans. Michael Sheen makes an appearance and of course, Lucy Liu is back, Mae Whitman, and so many others. I had a good time working on this dvd series because of the stories that it’s telling. This one is focusing on friendship, loyalty, understanding and it’s a family dvd. It’s Disney magic for sure. The animation is amazing. It’s something you wouldn’t expect for a dvd series because when you start getting multiple dvds with other cartoons it’s like the animation isn’t that great but this needs to be in the theater. It’s beautiful.
And you’re already working on the fourth installment of Tinkerbell, right?
I’m working on the fifth one right now. There’s a lot of installments and hopefully there will be even more to come.
Speaking of Disney, we had Princess Tiana, the first African American princess, last year. There was Jasmine, Mulan, so what ethnicity should get a princess next?
I like that question. I think you should definitely go Aborigine. I was in Australia last week [Laughs] and it’s good to see a human that is still as connected to this Earth as they should be.
What else are you working on?
I’m writing and I’m reading scripts to produce and I’m ready to get back on TV. I haven’t filmed That’s So Raven in almost 3 1/2, 4 years. I had a nice break. I got my thoughts together, I’ve been working on my fifth album for the last two year so I’ve been slacking but I’m doing it and hopefully it will be out next year.
Are we talking reality TV, like everyone else and their mother?
Here’s the situation, the other day I had a camera crew filming me and I have too many secrets [Laughs]. I have a whole ’nother⎯you know how people have alter egos? My alter ego is what you see now. With my real self, that will never happen.
Are you going to return to rapping?
I’ve been thinking about it. I’m not signed to a label as of yet so I’m enjoying making music from scratch and not being forced to be in studios with certain people. And it’s funny nowadays [because] rap is kind of not taken seriously if you don’t have a certain background, sometimes. I don’t rap about just anything. I have interesting lyrics that I want to express. I think I’m gonna find a balance between rapping and singing so that people aren’t like, “Look at this, That’s So Raven is rapping.” I’m from Atlanta, Georgia, you have no idea how hip-hop I am [Laughs]. But that’s where it is right now. We’ll do it the right way and hopefully by the end of next year I’ll have a nice little sound.
Who are you working with?
I’m working with some individuals who are unknown and known like The Interns, I’m working with a producer out of Denmark⎯so many different writers and I’m writing a lot as well.
Who are some other artists in the game that you’re feeling right now?
I’m so bad when it comes to that because I just have not bought anything recently and I’m very happy with it. Verve remixes, Me’Shell Ndegeocello. Thicke, first album, Robyn⎯she’s a really cool Europeon on Interscope; Brazilian girls. I listen to a lot of world music as well. I’m always updating in that area. I think it keeps me thinking and I like music that touches my soul, not just stuff that lasts a hot minute but something that can last me for a while.
Have you heard the new Willow Smith song that everyone is buzzing about?