Disney’s latest animated film Wreck-It Ralph 2 sparked quite the controversy when it featured a noticeably different illustration of the studio’s first black princess, Tiana. While Anika Noni Rose, the original voice of Princess Tiana, has been fairly mum about the backlash, she recently issued a statement on Instagram on Monday (Sept. 25), regarding the beloved character and her feelings on the matter.
Rose voiced Princess Tiana in the 2008 movie The Princess and the Frog. In the first teaser for Wreck-It Ralph, her character looked much different, showcasing lighter skin and other whitewashed attributes. Rose admitted that she was just as “surprised” to see the new version of Tiana as the fans, and immediately jumped into action.
“Aside from my personal feelings, I noted how people felt online (and in my dms) and I was glad to see that people are still very much in love with and supportive of our Princess,” Rose wrote in her lengthy IG post. “My team and I immediately put in a call to the studio to talk about the visual changes, and three weeks ago I had a meeting in person with the Wreck-It Ralph team, my original animator Mark Henn, and others.”
— Atlanta Black Star (@ATLBlackStar) September 21, 2018
Rose explained that new CGI technology altered Tiana’s appearance. “They explained how CGI animation did different things to the characters’ color tones in different light compares to hand drawn original characters, and 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 her 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 many other little brown faces around the world, that we so rarely get to see represented in fantasy,” she added.
The actress concluded her note by thanking Disney for making the proper changes to the character. She also shared a photo of her outside of the studio for an in-person meeting. “I also appreciate that this far into the process Disney had enough care and respect for all who love Princess Tiana and her legacy to spend the time and money to make the adjustments necessary,” she continued. “In doing so, they recognize that her legacy is also their legacy; two things I’m very proud to be a part of.”
Wreck-It Ralph 2 will be in theaters on Nov. 21. Read Anika Noni Rose’s statement below.