Fans Furious With Disney Over Light-Skinned Tiana Actress

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Left: Princess Tiana in a blue dress looks frustrated up at the night sky. Right: Princess Tiana in her green dress at Walt Disney World, a shocked emoji covers her face.

Princess Tiana is the talk of the town at Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort. Both Disney Parks will soon be home to Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, a New Orleans Bayou retheme of the former Splash Mountain. In Southern California, the Disney Princess will soon open a restaurant next door to a chic Princess and the Frog (2009) themed boutique.

Related: Walt Disney Imagineering Shares New Insight Into Upcoming Attraction

Many fans of Song of the South (1946) themed Splash Mountain have decried the retheme, even petitioning for the Disney Parks to change their minds. Nevertheless, the theme was overwhelmingly considered racist and problematic for its ties to the 1946 film, which romanticized life post-Civil War for Black Americans.

Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen Disney Cruise
Credit: Disney

This week, Princess Tiana caused a different kind of controversy on social media. An anonymous Guest shared a video of the New Orleans Princess at Princess Fairytale Hall in Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort. The clip was reposted on Reddit, where u/No-Chard-6706 expressed frustration with the light-skinned actress playing a Black princess:

This isn’t Tiana, this is Tiffany

This isn’t Tiana, this is Tiffany from DisneyWorld

Many commenters agreed and shared how important it was for them to see accurate representations of characters that looked like them.

“I was in that age group when TPatF came out and seeing a darkskin Black girl with full features instead of a lightskin mixed girl with eurocentric features and bone straight hair was very important to me,” u/breadedbooks wrote. “Colorism is a real thing.”

“I think it’s incredibly important for Tiana to be black, because she’s the only black princess Disney has,” u/Signature-Disastrous agreed. “For a lot of little kids, that’s really important. That should be a non-negotiable for the casting of that character.”

Princess Tiana, Prince Naveen, and fellow owners of the Tiana's Foods cooperative in the concept art for the new Disney ride Tiana's Bayou Adventure
Credit: Disney Parks Blog

“If they’re that picky about height, weight, voice, and more, they can be picky about skin color too. There are plenty of dark skinned black women who would love to play Tiana,” u/hotscissoringlesbian wrote.

Some suggested the actress may be a stand-in for Disney Cast Members that typically play Tiana but called in. “If they had to ask someone to cover her shift I don’t think it’s a big deal. If they replaced the one black Disney Princess with someone who is very ambiguous that would be disappointing,” said u/Novaghost8.

The entrance to Tiana's restaurant, which gleams green and gold.
Credit: Disney

Others compared a light-skinned Princess Tiana to Halle Bailey, a Black woman, portraying Princess Ariel, a white animated Disney character, in the upcoming live-action The Little Mermaid (2023). But fans quickly shut down that comparison.

“Jfc how are half of these comments already racist? Ariel’s whiteness is not integral to her character, Tiana’s blackness is. Disney needs to do better, there are so many black actresses who would love to take on this role, this is not acceptable,” u/AmphibianNo9598 argued.

An official poster announcing Tiana's Bayou Adventure, opening late 2024.
Credit: Disney Parks Blog

But as u/zombbarbie pointed out, it’s important to note that this Disney Cast Member is doing her best to make magical memories for children and had nothing to do with her casting:

This woman is also a real person and we need to be a little more respectful when talking about her. While it’s fully understandable to be upset at casting, saying things that discount whatever this woman’s identity is and calling her “white” or “not black enough” is evil.

Do you think Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort need to cast more accurate Disney Princesses? 

Please note that the opinions outlined in this article are based on personal Disney Parks Guest experiences. No two Guest experiences are alike, and this article does not necessarily align with Inside the Magic’s personal views on Disney Park operations.

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