All Articles Tagged "disney"

Meet Moana, Disney’s First-Ever Polynesian Princess

August 23rd, 2015 - By Ashley Monaé
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Disney has unveiled its newest princess and she’s Polynesian. Although not slated to hit the big screen until November 2016, Disney was super excited to preview Moana at their annual D23 expo.

Set on the islands of the South Pacific and adjoining seas, directors Ron Clements and John Musker describe the Polynesian princess as a “born navigator.” Setting sail on a voyage of self-discovery, Moana hopes to find a mythical island in a region called Oceania. The Rock will also lend his voice as the character of Maui, whom Moana meets during her travels.

While Moana isn’t the first Disney princess to break the fair-skin mold (Tiana and Mulan), it is great to see minorities being portrayed more in more in film, especially an animated one that children from all walks of life will enjoy.

 

 

3 Folktales From Africa That Disney Should Develop Instead Of “The Princess Of North Sudan”

July 1st, 2015 - By Cynthia L. Dorsey
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Meet the Heatons! A middle-class American family from Abingdon, Va. This family is comprised of the head of household, Jeremiah Heaton, his wife, Kelly, their two sons Justin and Caleb, and their 7-year-old daughter, Emily. Jeremiah works in the mining industry and even attempted to run for Congress in 2012. However, he has managed to make the news for something that has less to do with Congressional politics and more to do with White supremacy and continued disrespect of the African continent.

Emily, like most little girls her age, has an affinity for princess stories. After asking her father if she would ever become a princess, Jeremiah began researching places that he could claim as king so that Emily’s dream of becoming a princess could come true. His quest landed him smack dab in Africa, right between Egypt and Sudan on the land of Bir Tawil. In the midst of turmoil between Egypt and Sudan, Jeremiah Heaton in all his supreme authority and invincible power, traveled to Bir Tawil, planted a flag made by his children, and Emily’s wish of becoming a princess was granted.

Bir Tawil is frequented by Bedouins. They are a nomadic people whose ancestral lineage is a part of the Bir Tawil land, which they roam. The Bedouin way of living differs from the Heaton family’s White American way of life, so one can’t expect the Heatons to understand it. But the Bedouins should be respected.

This move by Heaton is White supremacy at its finest and perpetuates the colonization of the African continent. Sticking a flag in the sand and claiming land that is not yours, which you did not cultivate or even buy, all the while benefiting from the resources of that country perpetuates the colonialist attitude that has raped Africa for decades.

Though this highly problematic story of White superiority and entitlement continues to hijack Africa of its riches and denigrate the history of African peoples, what is most alarming is that this story will be passed on for generations to come. It has been picked up by Disney for development into a film called The Princess of North Sudan.

Disney has paid for the rights to Heaton’s story, and while many are in an uproar about it, we shouldn’t be surprised. It’s not like Disney has any respect for the stories of Black and brown people. In 2009, Disney released The Princess and the Frog featuring its very first Black princess, Tiana. It only took a mere 72 years since Disney’s first studio film release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937 to make this happen. I, along with many Black film enthusiasts, was elated at the idea that little Black girls would finally have an animated depiction of a princess who looked like them. But we don’t look like frogs. The Princess and the Frog ended up being adapted from the Brothers Grimm story The Frog Prince.

But what makes this recent decision by Disney to develop this story for the big screen so offensive is the fact that they don’t need to. Africa is overflowing with a rich oral history full of folklore and folktales of kings, queens, princes and princesses. Full of magical moments, love stories, adventure, family bonds, and happily ever after. And there are plenty other classic stories based in the continent that deserve to be shared. Here are a few authentically African princess stories we love that Disney could adapt instead:

Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters

 

Image Source: Scholastic

Image Source: Scholastic

Written by African-American author and illustrator John Steptoe in 1988, the popular children’s story takes place in an African village where kindhearted villager Mufaro and his two beautiful daughters Manyara and Nyasha live. Nyasha has taken on her father’s attributes and is giving. But unbeknownst to Mufaro, Manyara is mean and selfish. Mufaro gets word from the city that the king is looking for “the most worthy and beautiful daughters in the land” to marry. Mufaro can’t choose between his daughters as they are both equally beautiful, so he decides to take both of his daughters to the city so the king can decide for himself. Instead of traveling with her family, Manyara takes off toward the city in the middle of the night hoping to get there before her sister and be chosen as queen. On the way, she is faced with a few tests that challenge her character. Nyasha leaves the next morning with her father. She also has to take on the challenging tests, but she handles them with compassion and grace. Once they arrive at the palace, they realize the tests were set up by the king to see which sister possessed not only physical beauty, but inner beauty as well. The king chooses Nyasha to wed, and she becomes queen.

 

The Princess Who Lost Her Hair

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This Akamba legend is the story of a princess with beautiful long hair. According to the tale, she has “the loveliest hair in the world.” Singing maidens weave her hair into magical plaits every evening, which causes her hair to grow even longer. The maidens even adorn her hair with gold and carry her hair so that it won’t touch the ground. The princess loves all of the attention. One day as she sits in the garden getting her hair done, a bird lands on the garden wall and asks the princess for a strand of her hair to make a nest. The princess is so into her hair she feels disrespected that the bird would even ask her such a question. She denies the bird’s request. The bird casts a spell on the princess, which causes all of her hair to fall out and brings drought and famine to the kingdom. A young beggar boy named Muoma wants to help the kingdom and sets out to find the bird to ask if the spell can be broken. On his way, he faces a few tests where he has to practice kindness and share the last of his food and water with a mouse, an ant, and a flower. Because Muoma shows how kind he is, the spell is broken. Muoma helps to save the kingdom from the drought and famine, and the hair of the princess grows back. She falls in love with Muoma, for he truly showed her the meaning of kindness. Muoma and the princess marry and live happily ever after.

 

Nomi And The Magic Fish

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This tale from South Africa is often compared to Cinderella but we think it’s much better. Nomi, an adventurous young girl, is being starved by her father’s second wife. On a day out exploring her village, she meets and becomes friends with a fish at the stream. The fish brings Nomi food. Nomi’s evil stepmother becomes very suspicious and follows Nomi to the stream one day. When she sees Nomi has made a friend in the fish and the fish is bringing her food, the evil stepmother kills and eats the fish. But the fish had already predicted his demise and told Nomi that when the day came that he is eaten to throw his bones in the village chief’s garden. Nomi does just that. The next day the chief solicits help from whomever can bring the bones to him and offers his hand in marriage as the reward. Nomi is the only one who can do it. The two are married and live happily ever after.

 

“Elsa Isn’t Black” 3-Year-Old Racially Abused While Wearing “Frozen” Costume

June 24th, 2015 - By Veronica Wells
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It’s no surprise that America doesn’t have a monopoly on racism. People of color, particularly Black people, all throughout the the world, are often on the receiving end of racism and discrimination. And unfortunately, it starts early. Three-year-old Samara Muir, an Aboriginal girl in Melbourne, Australia, learned that the hard way at a recent Disney event.

According to the Daily Mail, little Samara was waiting in line for entry to the event and was dressed as her favorite Disney Princess Queen Elsa from Disney’s Frozen. 

Though Samara and her mother Rachel Muir were standing in line minding their business, another woman, a parent, turned around and said,

“I don’t know why you’re dressed up for because Queen Elsa isn’t black.” 

Rachel asked the woman what she meant by the comment but before the mother could respond, one of her two daughters, obviously reciting what she had been taught, chimed in saying:

“You’re Black and Black is ugly.”

Muir said she was shocked by the comments, particularly since Melbourne is one of the most multicultural places in the world.

“I couldn’t believe it.”

Muir said she decided in that moment to ignore the comments as a means of teaching her daughter to take the high road in those types of situations. She did tell Samara that they would talk about the incident later, when they got home.

And she did.

But that wasn’t the end of the ordeal. The next day, when Samara was set to go to her Aboriginal dance class, she told her mother that she didn’t want to go. When her mother asked why she said, “Because I’m Black.”

Rachel Muir was naturally mortified by the effect the racist comments had on her daughter and she took to Facebook to express her frustrations. It wasn’t long before the post went viral.

And though this story started off as a tragedy, like most Disney Princesses, Samara’s story has a happy ending.

People sent in messages of support for both Samara and Rachel.

Eventually, the people at Disney heard about the story. And the real-life Queen Elsa, the one who lives in Orlando, Florida, sent Samara a video message telling her to always be herself.

Rachel Muir recalled the event for The Age saying, “Her mouth just dropped to the ground,” Ms Muir said. “She kept saying over and over ‘she’s talking to me.’ We were in tears. It was so overwhelming.”

Disney on Ice Dare to Dream also took action. Not only did they invite Samara to attend the show, they would like for her to appear in it.

Nick Cannon and Aboriginal rapper Adam Briggs have voiced their support for Samara, with Briggs featuring her in one of his film clips.

The artist and activist said Samara was a “bright, beautiful little girl who can be any princess she wants to be.”

Boop!

So happy for this little one.

While Samara can be any Disney princess she wants, this also highlights the very real issue of inclusion and representation in media, especially for children. It’s no secret that Disney needs more princesses of color so girls of color around the world can see themselves as heroes and heroines on the big screen. It’s so important.

You can watch Samara’s story in the video below.

Disney Cancels Layoffs, Tells Workers To Pretend Nothing Ever Happened

June 18th, 2015 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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Disneyland

In May, 35 technology employees at Disney/ABC Television in New York and Burbank, CA were told they would be laid off. Adding insult to injury, the employees were also told they would have to train immigrants to do their jobs. The training session, however, didn’t last long. Employees reported the immigrants suddenly stopped reporting to their sessions. Then on June 11, managers in both offices told the Disney employees their layoffs were canceled.

During the meeting, employees were read a statement noting their jobs were continuing and they should behave as though nothing happened until further notice. Although the employees from the New York and California offices were not affected, in January a similar occurrence took place in Disney’s Orlando location when 250 tech workers were laid off and had to train Indian immigrants (who were on work visas) to their jobs in order to receive severance from Disney.

The Indian immigrants were given temporary work visas known as H-1B. These particular type of visa are for immigrants who have specialized skills and find positions where Americans with those same skills are not available to complete the job. With that in mind, the Justice Department plans to examine the H-1B visa program and the Labor Department will inspect outsourcing companies who bring immigrants to do work.

Since their last meeting, tech employees in the New York and Burbank offices have not received any updates on internal changes. Disney executives claim their company reorganization resulted in the Orlando offices layoffs. Though, Disney had to rehire the same employees it laid off.

Would you go back to a company that laid you off under these circumstances? Not sure that we would.

via The New York Times 

That Time Todrick Hall Created Disney Fairy Tales Out Of Nicki Minaj Songs

June 8th, 2015 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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Todrick Hall

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American Idol semi-finalist Todrick Hall is a creative genius who always surpasses our vision of what it takes to create a viral video masterpiece.

Known for “Beauty And The Beat” and “Cinderoncé,” Hall is back, this time portraying himself as Disney Princesses through Nicki Minaj’s music catalog. In the video, Hall performs as Ariel, Snow White, Cinderella and Jasmine to tweaked lyrics of Minaj’s major hits. Even more fitting for the theme, Hall also performs as Disney Villains Cruella D’Ville, Maleficent, Ursula, and The Evil Queen using Minaj’s epic verse from the 2010 Kanye West song, “Monster.”

At the end of the video, Hall announces his upcoming ” The Toddlerz Ball ” tour where fans can see him and his company perform their parodies live. If fans can’t see Hall on tour, they can catch him on MTV in his upcoming reality show titled, “Todrick” which will premiere on August 31st.

Get into Hall’s perfect “Mickey Minaj” parody, below!

The Princess Of North Sudan? Disney Movie To Be Based On Man Who Claimed African Land For Daughter

May 15th, 2015 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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Twitter

Twitter

Last summer, a Virginia man, Jeremiah Heaton made viral news after he shared on social media that he bought his daughter a “kingdom” in Africa for her birthday. The land Heaton claimed is Bir Tawil, a desert land between Egypt and Sudan. Heaton supposedly claimed this land by placing his family flag there. Buzzfeed News says it is unclear who the land legally belongs to, but Heaton is confident it is his.

Even more bizarre, Disney plans to make a film of Heaton’s claim on the land. Tentatively titled The Princess Of North Sudan, the film will revolve around Heaton’s daughter “Princess” Emily. Morgan Spurlock is set to produce it.

Since claiming the land in 2014, Al Jazeera says Heaton has applied to the United Nations for entity status and appointed European ambassadors in order to make the recognition process go faster.

As expected, Twitter users have spoken out against the film, saying Disney is encouraging modern day colonialism. Here are some of the best reactions to Disney’s latest project:

Others on Twitter believe Disney is making a mockery of colonialism and dismissing the issues that affect Sudan and Egypt, alike in order to receive financial benefits.

Do you agree?

Bet You Didn’t Know: Secrets Behind The Making Of “Cinderella”

April 6th, 2015 - By Veronica Wells
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Secrets Behind The Making Of "Cinderella"

Source: ABC

Before KeKe Palmer made history as the first Black Cinderella on Broadway, there was Brandy, who portrayed the titular role alongside Whitney Houston, her fairy godmother. This 1997 television movie was an iconic and unforgettable moment and arguably one of…if not the best Rogers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella. We all remember the magic on screen, but check out the behind the scenes secrets of this film.

Got Mickey And Minnie Money? Disney Raises Theme Park Ticket Prices

February 23rd, 2015 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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Disney Raises Theme Park Ticket

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With Spring Break around the corner, many children want to head to Disney theme parks to have the time of their lives. However, their parents’ pockets may say, “Hold up!”

Tthe Walt Disney Company raised the ticket prices at all their national and international theme parks yesterday, bringing a one-day ticket for Disneylsand or California Adventure in Anaheim, California to $99 for visitors ages 10 and up. In the past, the price was $96. For those interested in visiting Disney World in Florida, ticket prices are now $105.

Despite the ticket hikes, Disney’s Florida theme parks saw a nine percent growth rate, earning $3.9 billion at business quarter end on December 27, 2014. Their California theme parks have seen a seven percent growth rate, as well.

Disney also raised the tickets for children ages three to nine: $93 for entry to Disneyland and for Magic Kingdom, it will be $99. For any other Disney theme park, children in that age group will be $91. Suzi Brown who serves as the Disneyland Resort spokeswoman says, “We continually add new experiences, and many of our guests select multiday tickets or annual passes, which provide a great value and additional savings.”

If interested in multi-day tickets, the prices range from $295 (ages three to nine) to $315 (ages 10 and up). If you factor in air plane tickets, car rentals, lodging and parking, is it worth visiting Disney?

via USA Today

Black Children’s Stories That Disney Should Make Into Movies

January 14th, 2015 - By Meg Butler
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Image Source: Shutterstock

Image Source: Shutterstock


Did you hear that Lupita Nyong’o and David Oyelowo are slated to star in Disney’s next movie? Queen of Katwe is the true story of a Ugandan chess prodigy who rises out of poverty with the help of her coach.

And as long as Disney is injecting more color into their stories, here are some classic black children’s stories that are just begging to be made into Disney movies.

#GoMommy: A Disney Vacation In The Fall

November 21st, 2014 - By Kweli Wright
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A Disney vacation may scream “summertime,” but the parks in Florida and California are just as active and fun during the fall and winter. Though they are a little less crowded during the cooler months, there’s never a lack of things to do as I discovered with my family a few weeks ago. We caught the Epcot Food & Wine Festival, some great African American culture exhibits, took in a Cirque du Soleil show, and enjoyed the Halloween parade. I got my time to take in a spa day and  partake in The Great Whiskey debate, while my daughter played in the pool for hours. It was an amazing trip with lots of learning, culture, great food, entertainment and relaxation. Take a look at the pictures I was able to capture on this four day journey to Disney World! The best part of the trip had to be our hotel, Animal Kingdom Lodge, where we could see giraffe and a host of other animals right off our balcony. Truly magical!

#GoMommy: A Disney Vacation In The Fall