All Articles Tagged "disney"
Just a few years ago, Kiersey Clemons was a teenager just starting her acting career. She starred in various Disney projects, including the shows Shake It Up and Austin & Ally, and the film Cloud 9. And while many Disney kids end up trying to go the pop star route, Clemons wanted to continue acting and be taken seriously. She wanted to star in projects that cover a variety of important social issues and cause you to think outside the box. That’s why she’s one of the stars of the critically-acclaimed Amazon show Transparent, has starred alongside Halle Berry on the CBS drama Extant, and played a lesbian drummer, geek, and ’90s enthusiast trying to navigate Inglewood, Calif. in the beloved hit film, Dope. With her newest project, Neighbors 2, arriving in theaters this Friday, we chatted with Clemons about life after being a Disney kid, what it’s really like to be a Black actress nowadays, what attracted her to the film, and how playing Diggy in Dope changed the trajectory of her career and the way she views herself and her talent. Check it out.
Neighbors 2 hits theaters Friday, May 20.
I still remember the feeling of absolute joy I felt watching Disney’s The Princess and the Frog. And I was “grown,” in college. Still, while I recognized the first Black Disney princess was a huge step in the right direction, there was so much more the company needed to do in terms of diversity and representing women and girls of color.
Which is why we were all so excited to learn of the latest Disney film, Queen of Katwe.
As we’ve reported before, Queen of Katwe, starring Lupita Nyong’o, David Oyelowo and newcomer Madina Nalwanga, who plays the lead role of Phiona Mutesi, is based on the true story of a 10-year-old girl growing up in the slums of Katwe in Kampala, Uganda.
Mutesi sells corn on the street until she learns to play chess from Robert Katende (played by Oyelowo). It’s not long before Katende realizes that Mutesi is a chess prodigy. Her gift eventually takes her to the Olympiad, where she goes up against the best chess players in the world, many of them adults.
In a 2011 article, ESPN described Mutesi’s story as that of the ultimate underdog.
“To be African is to be an underdog in the world. To be Ugandan is to be an underdog in Africa. To be from Katwe is to be an underdog in Uganda. And finally, to be female is to be an underdog in Katwe.”
But as Oyelowo so poignantly states in the new trailer for the film, “Sometimes the place you are used to is not the place you belong.”
Check out the incredible trailer in the video below.
Queen of Katwe will hit theaters on September 23.
We’ve previously mentioned that Lupita Nyong’o was in talks to star in a new Disney film called The Queen of Katwe. The film follows a Ugandan chess prodigy, played by Madina Nalwanga.
The film, directed by Indian filmmaker Mira Nair, a woman, is based on the Tim Crothers’ book, expanded from his 2013 ESPN Magazine article.
Nalwanga, plays the film’s lead character Phiona Mutsei, a young teenaged girl from the slumps of Kampala who pursues her dream of becoming an international chess champion, despite not even knowing how to read at the time.
Nyong’o plays Phiona’s mother. David Oyelowo, who also stars in the movie, plays the missionary man who teaches the children in Kampala to play chess.
The film was shot on location in Uganda. For Nyong’o, the location was a welcome choice.
“It was so great to go back home,” the actress said at D23 Expo in August. “I’m from East Africa. I’m from Kenya, which is just next door to Uganda.”
She continued: “This is a story about the commitment to a dream even in the most discouraging of situations. The slum of Katwe is a very difficult place to live, but you see these people living there with dignity and making it day by day. And so to go there and to have that environment to work from really did sober us and enliven us.”
Despite murmurings that Lupita is not getting enough work, this is her second Disney film as she will also be starring in the 2015 revamp of The Jungle Book. She also appeared in the recent blockbuster, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. That movie was so successful, it beat out Avatar as the highest grossing film of all time in North America.
Check out the recently released image below.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
I think she looks adorable! How can someone say "you can't be elsa because elsa is not black" or "she is black and black is ugly"?! How can someone say it to 3 years old child?! Samara you are beautiful and you look even better than Elsa 😊 #saynotoracism #samaramuir #aboriginal #racismiswrong #samara #thisworldismessedup #disney #disneycarneval #elsa #peoplearerude #frozen
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.”
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.
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.
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!
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:
The first African princess after AN ANIMAL (Lion King) should NOT be white! Y’all even recognize animals before us smh #PrincessOfNorthSudan
— ☽☾ black intifada ☽☾ (@blackintifada) May 14, 2015
— Johnny Boy ☮ (@JohnTheFame) May 14, 2015
— Nad!a A. (@Nadiaalie) May 14, 2015
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?
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.