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I Hope These Disney Rumors Keep Bringing Us Amazing Videos From Ari Lennox and Coco Jones

Apply that (pressure).

Tiana and her mom looking up in The Princess and The Frog.

It’s a good time to be a Tiana fan. The first Black Disney princess is finally getting a themed ride at Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. (Tiana’s Bayou Adventure is replacing Splash Mountain.) Although Disney has delayed it a few times (now indefinitely), there’s an upcoming animated series featuring the creole cook. Now, there’s a rumor that Disney is in the early stages of a live-action The Princess and the Frog adaptation!

While most live-action remakes result in eye-rolls and heavy sighs, this particular movie would be welcomed with the right vision. We love Tiana as a character and she was long overdue. However, the film has quite a few major issues, the biggest of which is the fact that Tiana is a frog for most of the movie, making her, alongside many other characters of color (especially Black ones), non-human for most of the film. An adaption could offer more screen time with some adjustments.

This rumor began a flurry of fan casting. Fan casting live-action counterparts to The Princess and the Frog is not new. However, with the rumors, many ran to pitch their faves. In addition to fans advocating for their picks, some posted cheeky and coy audition videos online. This includes contemporary R&B princesses Ari Lennox and Coco Jones

Almost There

The “Shea Butter Baby” singer quickly uploaded a video of herself singing “Almost There.” This is a favorite on the soundtrack and is Tiana’s main solo song, performed by Anika Noni Rose. In the stunningly animated sequence referencing Black Harlem Renaissance painter Aaron Douglas, Tiana sings about how close she is to opening her dream restaurant.

Unless Tiana were aged up a few decades (which I’m not opposed to at all), the original voice actress, Rose, doesn’t quite fit the role. However, as the blueprint, Disney should bring on Rose in some capacity. Maybe Rose could play Tiana’s mother (Eudora) or another Black woman added to the cast in hopefully more human-Tiana scenes. A Tiana played by Lennox … possibly?

Lennox seemed semi-serious as she updated her Twitter header to be more family-friendly. After all, she tagged The Mouse. Two days after Lennox shared her take, former Disney Channel star (and current Hillary Banks on Bel-Air) Coco Jones teased a similar video. Jones even upped the ante by singing the song in her kitchen while cooking some eggs. I’m not sure if it was staged or not, but I don’t care!

While she’s more known for her acting than singing, the one voice missing from this conversation is Keke Palmer. After all, Palmer has been a popular fan cast for years. Between kicking off her production company Key TV and giving birth to her firstborn, Leodis, she might just be resting. Or maybe she is just not that interested. As we’ve seen with X-Men’s Rogue, Palmer makes it clear when she’s interested in the role of an already established character.

Today, her second studio album, Big Boss, releases, so who knows what kind of tease we may get from Palmer during promotions?

Naveen live-action casting

Tiana isn’t the only leading character who is being widely discussed. Many are throwing out ideas of who could play Prince Naveen of Maldonia. I’m sorry to report that good fan casting has been scarce, as they have been with many of the other characters. Complicating things with Naveen is the racial ambiguity of the character.

While Disney has not confirmed anything, his name and features point to the actor being SWANA (South West Asian and North African). His mother’s attire alludes to South Asia or maybe West India if they hail from  Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, and Suriname. Regardless, in part due to colorism and antiquated caste hierarchy, people are going for a lot of very light-skinned actors.

Instead of sharing the bad fan casts that don’t consider anything beyond “not white” (though some can’t even do that right), here are some of the best ones.

Please note that Ranveer Singh and Rajiv Surendra are the only ones with a music background. However, we should hear the rest out because it’s not like Naveen has a solo song. His singing is more about his excessive confidence rather than vocal range. Although … because we want more human-screen time, there’s always the option to add a track in!

Who would you love to see as Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen in an adaptation?

(featured image: Disney+)

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(she/her) Award-winning artist and blogger with professional experience and education in graphic design, art history, and museum studies. Starting as an Online Editor for her college paper in October 2017, Alyssa began writing for the first time within two months of working in the newsroom. This resident of the yeeHaw land spends most of her time drawing, reading and playing the same handful of video games—even as the playtime on Steam reaches the quadruple digits. Currently playing: Baldur's Gate 3, Apex Legends, and CS:GO. Still trying to beat Saxon Farm on RCT 3 (so I can 100% the game.)