When the first trailer for Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2 premiered earlier this summer, at first glance, it seemed like a culmination of all our Disney princess dreams: Finally, the princesses were getting to let their hair down, relax, and acknowledge their problematic story lines. Then people took a second look and noticed this version of the heroines wasn't problem-free either, because it looked like Princess Tiana had been whitewashed. But how's this for a happy ending? Disney listened and is making a change before the movie hits theaters.
At issue was the fact that Tiana, the first-ever Black Disney princess from 2009's The Princess and the Frog, appeared to have both lighter skin and a narrower nose in the Wreck-It Ralph 2 trailer and images. Twitter called this right away:
Blogs such as Madame Noire and The Glow Up were also on the case, even as they were happy to see Tiana wearing her hair natural. The activist group Color of Change got involved as well. Much to their surprise, Disney was willing to do something about it, meeting with actress Anika Noni Rose (the voice of Tiana) and reps for Color of Change.
“I think when we first went into this campaign, we knew that they had been working on this for so long, and we didn’t think that they would change [Wreck-It Ralph 2],” Color of Change senior campaign director Brandi Collins-Dexter told The Glow Up. “Like, we went in and we asked for that, but our thought was just that moving forward, when [they] do another movie or another thing, like, just make sure that she’s returned to her original form. But we weren’t expecting them to actually go back into Wreck-It Ralph and do that.”
But that's exactly what they did. As first reported in the Wall Street Journal last week, the studio re-edited the movie, taking 650 hours per shot, to make Tiana look more like herself. They also reportedly made adjustments to Mulan, Jasmine, and Pocahontas, who had been looking more Caucasian than their originals as well. This was no small amount of work, but also no small matter for the young audience the studio hopes will watch this movie in theaters this November.
Huge win for Black girls who look up to Princess Tiana! After conversations with @Disney & @DisneyAnimation about the character's appearance in #WreckItRalph2, they addressed our concerns and restored Tiana to her original depiction. #RepresentationMatters https://t.co/lN8j4OA95N— ColorOfChange.org (@ColorOfChange) September 21, 2018
"Disney’s decision to restore Princess Tiana’s image to that of an unapologetically Black princess with full lips, dark skin and dark hair in Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2 is a victory for Color of Change members, Black children and their parents, and Black audiences who want to see the variety of shades, shapes and sizes of Black characters accurately represented in the arts," Collins-Dexter said in a statement to WSJ. (Reps for Color of Change and Disney have not yet returned Refinery29's request for comment.)
In a perfect world there would have been enough Black women working behind the scenes to prevent this from ever happening in the first place. But maybe they'll be able to think about that next time.