In late April, Matthew Cherry, executive and director at Monkeypaw Productions, retweeted a tweet from @glamsamxo fan casting How To Get Away with Murder actor Rome Flynn in the role of Prince Naveen in an imagined live-action theatrical version of The Princess and the Frog. At the end of his retweet, Cherry posed an interesting question: “This is smart. Now who plays Tiana?”
This is smart. Now who plays Tiana? https://t.co/JQEsg4Ctzd
— Matthew A. Cherry ???? (@MatthewACherry) April 23, 2019
With recent Disney classics like Cinderella and Beauty and The Beast getting the live action treatment, now could be a perfect time to make a live-action adaptation of The Princess and the Frog a reality. This would also present an opportunity for Disney to cast an emerging actress in the role of Tiana, Disney’s first Black princess. Not since Brandy in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella have we seen a dark-skinned Black actress in the role of a Disney princess.
Here are 10 emerging actresses who would cast a spell and enchant viewers as Princess Tiana in a live-action cinematic version of The Princess and the Frog.
1) Antoinette Robertson
Antoinette Robertson is best known for her role as Colandrea “Coco” Conners in Justin Simien’s Netflix TV version of Dear White People. Like Tiana, Robertson’s Coco is hardworking and ambitious, making it an ideal foundation for inspiration if Robertson were asked to portray the Disney Princess.
2) Lovie Simone
2019 Shadow And Act RISING Award winner Lovie Simone is best known for her role as Zora, the rebellious daughter of Kerissa and Jacob on the OWN show, Greenleaf .(and she’s also our pick to play Bella in our Black Twilight Saga: Midnight vampire series remake). In January, Simone made her bid for leading lady status in Selah and The Spades, the directorial debut from Tayarisha Poe. The drama sees Simone portray a cunning Black girl running one of five high school factions. Starring as Tiana in something as lighthearted as The Princess and the Frog would offset her edgier roles as Zora and Selah and showcase her range as an actress.
3) Lashana Lynch
Lashana Lynch earned positive reviews for her role as Maria Rambeau, Carol Danvers’ best friend, in Captain Marvel. Since then, the UK born actress has gone on to secure the supporting role of Nomi in the 25th film in the James Bond franchise. With roles stamped down in the worlds of Marvel and James Bond, it’s only fitting that Lynch rounds out the trifecta by starring in a well-known Disney property like The Princess and the Frog.
4) Ebony Obsidian
Ebony Obsidian recently appeared as Adrienne Hunt in Barry Jenkins’ If Beale Street Could Talk. However, she is most remembered for her role as Michelle in “Thanksgiving”, the Emmy Award-winning Master Of None episode written by and starring Lena Waithe. Obsidian seems to be well on her way to a breakthrough performance. The role of a Disney Princess can certainly skyrocket her to bigger heights.
5) Eboneé Noel
Eboneé Noel currently stars as FBI analyst Kristen Chazal on the CBS drama FBI. As of yet, she certainly hasn’t had a role that places her on everyone’s radar. In the event that an actual live-action version of Princess and the Frog becomes a reality, Disney can do a 180 and cast an emerging actress in the larger-than-life role of a Disney Princess.
6) Sierra McClain
Sierra McClain won many hearts in the 2007 film Daddy’s Little Girls. In 2015 she showcased her singing chops on the FOX drama Empire. One third of the musical girl group McClain, the role of Tiana would be the perfect showcase for her vocal prowess.
7) Ashleigh Murray
Ashleigh Murray currently stars as Josie McCoy in the CW teen drama Riverdale. With word that Murray will reprise her role in the upcoming spinoff Katy Keene, it’s evident Murray’s star is only rising. Given Riverdale’s leanings as an ensemble lineup, now is a great time for Disney studios to snatch Murray up with a role that could put her on everyone’s radar.
8) Aja Naomi King
We stan Aja Naomi King. A constant presence on many of our fan casting lists, Aja Naomi King deserves! She’s best known for her role as Michaela Pratt on ABC’s How to Get Away with Murder. In 2016, she turned heads when she portrayed Cherry Turner in Nate Parker’s The Birth of a Nation. Her performance, which received rave reviews, was shortlisted as an early contender for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. However, what should have been King’s breakthrough moment was tarnished when allegations of rape against Parker resurfaced and derailed the film’s publicity campaign. King is long overdue for her on-screen shine as a leading actress. Why not start with Princess Tiana? She has already proven romantic chemistry with her fellow HTGAWM co-star Rome Flynn.
9) Teyonah Parris
As far as the resemblance goes, Parris is practically Tiana incarnate. Many were first introduced to Parris with her recurring role as Dawn Chambers on Mad Men. In 2015, she proved she can carry a film on her thespian-trained shoulders when she starred as the lead in the Spike Lee film Chi-raq. However, Parris still hasn’t had that breakthrough moment on film. With scene-stealing turns as Ernestine in If Beale Street Could Talk and as Coco in Dear White People, casting Parris as Princess Tiana in a live-action adaptation of The Princess and the Frog would be the perfect role to solidify her as a leading lady.
10) Ashley Blaine Featherson
Howard University alum Ashley Blaine Featherson is best known for her role as Joelle Brooks on Dear White People. There, she showcased her musical talents when she sang renditions of “Lift Every Voice” and Erykah Badu’s “Tyrone” during the second season. Featherson’s dual talents as an actress and singer are too big for the small screen, and a quick meeting with Disney execs could certainly remedy that.
Photo: SOFIA THE FIRST – “Winter’s Gift” – Alyson Hannigan, Phylicia Rashad and Nick Offerman guest star in a holiday-themed episode where Sofia meets a young faun (Hannigan) who has been cursed by an Ice Witch (Rashad). Disney Princess Tiana (voiced by Disney Legend Anika Noni Rose) from “The Princess and the Frog” will make a special appearance to help Sofia and her new friend learn that a true gift comes from the heart. Premieres Friday, December 12 on Disney Channel. (Image by Disney Junior via Getty Images)