Anika Noni Rose Talks About ‘The Princess and The Frog’

The voice of Disney’s first black animated princess on her historical role.

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There was a moment when Anika Noni Rose, star voice of Disney’s new animated film The Princess and The Frog, suddenly knew the movie would work. It wasn’t when she started preparing for the role of Princess Tiana, the film’s main character. Nor was it when she realized she would be voicing Disney’s first black princess, as well as the first actress to do both the dialogue and sing the songs.

“I watched it last night in a room full of children and their parents, and grown people were talking to the movie,” says Rose, interviewed from a room high atop New York City’s Le Parker Meridien Hotel where she is stationed for the day, doing interviews. “Grown people were talking to the movie, and I was like, ‘OK, this works. Grown people are talking to a cartoon. That’s fantastic.’”

So as The Princess and the Frog hits theaters, expect to hear a lot of grown people and children talking not only to the cartoons on the screen but about the film long after the credits have rolled. For those who have been living under a rock, Rose’s star turn as the voice of Princess Tiana isn’t just another Disney film for children. As the first black princess, the film has taken on a transcendent meaning, invoking discussions of race and making grown folks talk about a film that for all intents and purposes was made for children.

Rose sat down with The Root to discuss her role’s cultural significance, preparing for the tasks of singing and acting, and what she hopes people of all ages get out of The Princess and the Frog.

The Root: Let’s start with an easy question. What’s your favorite Disney film and why?