Anneliese van der Pol, best known for her role as Chelsea on That’s So Raven, just shared a shocking revelation about the hit Disney Channel sitcom and what she considered to be racism.
During an appearance on the latest episode of the podcast Vulnerable hosted by fellow Disney star Christy Carlson Romano, the former child star opened up about the racism she saw unfold during the sitcom’s initial casting.
van der Pol says Raven Symoné was initially cast as the sidekick in the first 'That's So Raven' script.
“When I went into audition, the show as called Absolutely Psychic — it wasn’t called That’s So Raven at all,” van der Pol revealed. “At the time, Raven wasn’t the lead, she was the sidekick. They were looking for a lead. I came in to audition for the lead. I think the character’s name was Molly. I auditioned and a couple other people auditioned. I didn’t get the part — somebody else got the part — but when they filmed, they realized that Raven was the funniest one and had a following, and so they bumped her up to first position and started auditioning people again.”
The actress saw the network's initial decision of making Raven Symoné the sidekick as "racism."
“I went into a big cattle call and I finally got the part,” van der Pol said of landing the part of Raven’s best friend, Chelsea, on That’s So Raven. “I think the character’s name was like, Molly, then Emma, and then it became Chelsea. And I think it was kind of like racism at a low level, if that’s even a possibility. They couldn’t really see a Black girl leading a show. They only saw her as a sidekick.”
Symoné recently opened up about leading the Disney Channel sitcom, which has since proved to be an international hit.
“It didn’t impact me as much then as it does now because I was 15,” Raven-Symoné told EW of making history as the youngest Black female to have a show named after her at the time. “I was like, ‘Cool, I got my own show.’ It means so much now because I understand the [gravity] of what it means and the caliber of humans that I am in the pool with. I think it was kind of a good thing that I didn’t let it go to my head. It was just about working and wanting to create great content at the time.”