Aside from Halle Bailey, Here Are Other Black Disney Actors and Characters We Love [Update]

Aside from Halle Bailey, Here Are Other Black Disney Actors and Characters We Love [Update]

We are cheering Halle Bailey for taking on an iconic role, but let's also recognize the other Black (real and animated) characters who helped Disney shine.

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Image for article titled Aside from Halle Bailey, Here Are Other Black Disney Actors and Characters We Love [Update]
Photo: Christopher Willard / Contributor (Getty Images)

Disney has some of the most beloved shows and movies of our childhoods. As we near the release of the much anticipated, The Little Mermaid, we have to look back at some of the Black people, shows, and movies that bring us joy.

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H.E.R. as Belle

H.E.R. as Belle

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Photo: Christopher Willard / Contributor (Getty Images)

In December 2022, Grammy Award-winning artist, H.E.R., played Belle for the live-action Beauty and the Beast: A 30th Anniversary on ABC. She showed off her incredible electric guitar skills while portraying the princess, which was a badass way to make the classic character her own!

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The Famous Jett Jackson

The Famous Jett Jackson

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Screenshot: Screen shot from Imdb.com (Other)

The coming-of-age series, The Famous Jett Jackson, premiered in 1998 following Jett Jackson (played by Lee Thompson Young), an action-hero actor who moved his show from California to his hometown in North Carolina in hopes of having a regular teenage life. There was also a movie, Jet Jackson: The Movie, released in 2001 based on the show.

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Wade from Kim Possible

Wade from Kim Possible

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Screenshot: Screen shot from Disney.fandom.com (Other)

Wade, voiced by Tahj Mowry, from the animated series Kim Possible was the ten-year-old eyes and ears of the high school crime-fighting spy, Kim Possible. Wade was the tech genius who would create gadgets, give Kim Possible her missions, run Kim’s website and operate her Kimmunicator. 

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Shake it Up and K.C. Undercover

Shake it Up and K.C. Undercover

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Image: Screen grab from Amazon.com (Other)

Zendaya’s first acting roles were on Disney Channel as she played Rocky Blue in Shake It Up, a background dancer for a popular local show, and K.C. Cooper in K.C. Undercover, playing a daughter adjusting to high school while being in a secret agent family. She starred in the show alongside Trinitee Stokes, Kamil McFadden, Family Matters’ Tammy Townsend, and A Different World’s Kadeem Hardison.

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That’s So Raven

That’s So Raven

Theme Song 🎶 | That’s So Raven | Disney Channel

Raven-Symoné played a teenage psychic in one of Disney’s greatest sitcoms, That’s So Raven. The show was the first to hit 100 episodes on Disney Channel. That hit launched two spin-offs, Cory in the House and Raven’s Home.

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The Cheetah Girls

The Cheetah Girls

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Image: Screen grab from Disneyplus.com (Other)

Disney’s sweetheart— Raven-Symone, starred alongside Adrienne Bailon-Houghton, Kiely Williams, and Sabrina Bryan in Disney’s first musical original movie, The Cheetah Girls (2003). The film series followed four high school girls working to become global superstars. The group released 3 albums and went on 3 tours. Raven left the group before the third movie was released in 2008. Unfortunately broken friendships, ensued, so we may never get a Cheetah sisters reunion.

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Let it Shine

Let it Shine

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Image: Screen grab from Disneyplus.com (Other)

Let it Shine (2012) is a Disney Channel Original Movie about a shy rapper played by Tyler James Williams. He wins a music contest despite coming from a family where rap music is demonized. The star-studded cast includes Courtney B. Vance, Chloe and Halle Bailey, Coco Jones, Trevor Jackson, and Algee Smith.

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Doc McStuffins

Doc McStuffins

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Image: Screen grab from Disneyplus.com (Other)

She has a diagnosis! Doc McStuffins premiered on Disney Junior in 2012 and ended in 2020. The seven-year-old dreams of being a doctor like her mother and in her imagination helps her toys with their illnesses and injuries. Doc McStuffins was voiced by Kiara Muhammad and Laya DeLeon Hayes. Loretta Devine voiced one of the stuffed animals on the show as well.

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The Princess and the Frog

The Princess and the Frog

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Image: Screen grab from Disneyplus.com (Other)

Tiana voiced by Anika Noni Rose was Disney’s first Black princess: Tiana. The Princess and the Frog (2009) was criticized for making the first Black princess a frog for a majority of the film, but the film did kick open the door for more Black animated characters in Disney films. The voice acting included Jenifer Lewis as Mama Odie, Oprah Winfrey as Eudora, Keith David as Dr. Facilier, and Micheal-Leon Wooley as Louis.

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Joe Gardner in Soul

Joe Gardner in Soul

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Image: Screen grab from Disneyplus.com (Other)

Jamie Foxx voices Joe Gardner in the tear-jerker film, Soul (2020). Joe is Disney Pixar’s first Black lead and won two Academy Awards in 2021 for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Score.

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Frozone in The Incredibles

Frozone in The Incredibles

The Incredibles on Blu-ray: “Wheres My Super Suit” - Clip

Honeyyy?! WHERE’S MY SUPER SUIT? Samuel L. Jackson voiced one of Disney’s most iconic Black animated characters, Frozone, in The Incredibles (2004).

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The Proud Family

The Proud Family

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Image: Screen grab from Disneyplus.com (Other)

The Proud Family will push your buttons and make you wanna hug’em. The animated show focused on Penny Proud, voiced by Kyla Pratt, and her school and home life experiences as a young Black girl, trying to obey her parents, keep her cool in a chaotic yet loving household, and also have fun with her friends. The show ended in 2005, but was revived in 2022.

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The Madrigal family in Encanto

The Madrigal family in Encanto

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Image: Screen grab from The Disinsider.com (Other)

The Madrigal family in Encanto (2021) shines a light on Afro-Latinx families with the characters Antonio, Felix, Camilo, and Dolores. The characters were also voiced by Afro-Latinx people.

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Alisha and Izzy Hawthorne in Lightyear

Alisha and Izzy Hawthorne in Lightyear

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Image: Screen grab from Radiotimes.com (Other)

Alisha Hawthorne voiced by Uzo Aduba is Buzz Lightyear’s best friend and Izzy Hawthorne voiced by Keke Palmer is Alisha’s granddaughter in Lightyear (2022), an origin story about Toy Story’s Buzz Lightyear.

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Taylor and Chad in High School Musical

Taylor and Chad in High School Musical

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Image: Screen grab from TeenVogue.com (Other)

The love story we never truly got to see, Chad (Corbin Bleu) and Taylor (Monique Coleman) in High School Musical (2206). In the movie series, the two are seen together from time to time, sharing a few hugs, and a proposal, but there were never separate scenes with them coming together as a couple. Although we didn’t get the ending we wanted in the movies, it’s so sweet that they’re still great friends today.

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Black campers in Camp Rock

Black campers in Camp Rock

Jordan Francis, Roshon Bernard Fegan - Hasta La Vista (From “Camp Rock”/Sing-Along)

It’s time to give these guys their flowers! The Hasta Lavista crew included most of the Black and POC characters in the movie Camp Rock (2008). Not a surprise, but these guys gave us the best songs, choreography, and scenes in the movie.

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Sister, Sister

Sister, Sister

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Image: Screen grab from People.com (Other)

Our favorite Hollywood twins, Tia and Tamera Mowry starred in Sister, Sister (1994). The show also had a fabulous cast with Jackée Harry as Lisa Landry, Tim Reid as Ray Campbell, and Marques Houston as Roger.

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Angela in Boy Meets World

Angela in Boy Meets World

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Image: Screen grab from Buzzfeednews.com (Other)

Trina McGee-Davis played Angela, Topanga’s best friend in college, and Shawn’s love interest in Boy Meets World (1993). Unfortunately, Trina revealed in 2020 that she experienced racial mistreatment by her co-stars and staff, and in 2022 said that she was told to “turn down” her Blackness while on the set of the show.

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Chyna Parks in A.N.T. Farm

Chyna Parks in A.N.T. Farm

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Image: Screen grab from Amazon.com (Other)

A musical prodigy, Chyna Parks, attending a school for children with advanced talents was played by China Ann McClain in A.N.T. Farm (2011). Her older brother, Cameron Parks, was played by Carlon Jeffrey.

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Smart Guy

Smart Guy

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Image: Screen grab from Disneyplus.com (Other)

This show was only on television for 3 seasons, but Tahj Mowry, brother of Tia and Tamera Mowry, played T.J. Henderson in Smart Guy (1997). The show follows the genius: T.J. The little smarty suddenly moves from fourth grade to high school.

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The Lion King

The Lion King

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Image: Screen grab from Disneyplus.com (Other)

The cast may be lions, hyenas, and birds, but some of them are voiced by Black people in The Lion King (1994). The 1994 voice cast had James Earl Jones as Mufasa, Whoopi Goldberg as Shenzi, Robert Guillaume as Rafiki, Madge Sinclair as Sarabi, Jason Weaver as Simba, and Niketa Calame as Nala. The 2019 cast is also mostly Black voice actors including Beyoncé and Donald Glover.

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Mr. Moseby in The Suite Life of Zack & Cody

Mr. Moseby in The Suite Life of Zack & Cody

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Image: Screen grab from Amazon.com (Other)

Stop running in his lobby! Phill Lewis was the strict Tipton Hotel manager in The Suite Life of Zack & Cody (2005) and The Suite Life on Deck (2008).

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Ariel in The Little Mermaid

Ariel in The Little Mermaid

The Little Mermaid - Official Teaser Trailer

We’re excited to see Halle Bailey play Ariel in the live-action The Little Mermaid (2023). The star has been facing racist commentary online as she, a Black woman, was chosen to be one of the most loved Disney princesses. Too bad racists, Disney isn’t changing its mind, Ariel is BLACK.

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