As reported earlier this week, Disney was getting hit with criticism online from fans who noticed that the version of Tiana glimpsed in footage and trailers for the Wreck-It Ralph sequel — which will include a scene featuring every Disney Princess — seemed to have had her features altered. Among other things, her skin was lightened and her nose made less round, making her more "racially ambiguous."
The outcry on social media led the studio to recently make changes to the character, restoring her look to more closely resemble the Tiana who first made her debut in 2009's The Princess and the Frog. That film was not only a return to hand-drawn animation for the studio but a groundbreaking effort in that it was the first Disney movie to feature a Disney Princess of color.
Now Anika Noni Rose, the actress who voiced Tiana in both movies and who was invited to consult on the corrective action taken for Ralph Breaks the Internet, has posted a statement on Instagram in which she explains her own thoughts on the situation and says that Disney was open and attentive to the concerns:
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 [on The Princess and the Frog] Mark Henn, and others. They explained how CGI animation did different things to the characters' color tones in different light compared 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.
Rose and her team were apparently satisfied with not just that explanation, but with the way Disney handled the issue:
It was important to me to hear what Disney had to say, and to have an open dialogue about legacy and representation. They did not have to make time to give me a presentation on the process, but I'm very glad that they did. 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.
With the Wreck-It Ralph sequel just two months away from release, Disney seemed to take the concerns seriously enough to tweak the movie at this late date, ultimately staying faithful to the unambiguous look of its first African-American princess after that initial misstep.
Ralph Breaks the Internet will arrive in theaters on Nov. 21.