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Former Disney star Anneliese van der Pol dropped a bombshell about the original casting idea for That’s So Raven on the Vulnerable Podcast with fellow Disney star Christy Carlson Romano.

On April 24, Anneliese and Christy discussed the “secrets” behind how That’s So Raven came to be. Before she spilled the tea, the singer and actress gave her co-star and Orlando Brown props on the longevity of their careers before the Disney show aired- despite racism almost preventing the gem of a show from happening.

 The 38-year-old actress, who portrayed Chelsea– Raven’s best friend and sidekick in the series, divulged that the mega-network didn’t want Raven-Symoné as the lead. It tracks with Disney’s toxic reputation

“I don’t know if you know this story,” she asked Christy– who said she didn’t.

“When I went in to audition, the show was called Absolutely Psychic,” Anneliese said. “It wasn’t called That’s So Raven at all. At the time, Raven wasn’t the lead. She was the sidekick. They were looking for a lead, and I came in to audition for the lead. I think that was kind of, like, racism at a low level — I guess if that’s even a possibility. They couldn’t really see a Black girl leading a show. They only saw her as a sidekick.”

The story starts at the 5:48 mark.



Anneliese told Christy that Raven’s character was initially named Molly and created for a white girl. The Kim Possible star opined that diversity was the farthest thing from Disney’s mind, stating to Anneliese that they only cared about money and not the importance of representation.

The actress also explained that Raven-Symoné’s nailed her audition, sending the company’s producers into a frenzy to rewrite the entire show with her as the lead character– but the audience loved her. That’s So Raven eventually booted Disney’s top-performing series Lizzie McGuire from its number one spot. The series lasted four seasons (a Disney first) and filmed 100 episodes- 35 more than the network’s previous standard. Raven-Symoné secured licensing for paraphernalia from the show. She was also the first actress to have spin-offs from her original show- Cory’s In The House and Raven’s Home– with Anneliese reprising her role as the star’s goofy bestie Chelsea.

The video quickly went viral on social media, with fans sounding off about the Disney revelation. Fans also expressed how they appreciated how Anneliese kept it a buck about the disturbing information. 


One person on Twitter let it be known that That’s So Raven made Disney what it was. 

The show’s cultural impact and influence also didn’t go unnoticed.

She paved the way for a barrage of other Black Disney talent like Zendaya, Keke Palmer, Coco Jones, Raven Goodwin and Sidney Parks.

Considering the network hit cable in 1983 and would not have a Black leading cast member until 2001, racism appears to be the driving force in the company’s previous branding.

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