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Representation Characters: Black Actresses Portraying Traditionally White Princesses

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Ashley Marino
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Freeze the Moment 4Ever Photography

 

The owner of a character company in Clarksville says recent Black Lives Matter protests have opened her eyes to a new and obvious idea, representation characters. Royal Entertainment Character Company will now cast Black actresses to assume traditionally white roles. 

 

The company’s Black actresses have previously been limited to portraying “The Bayou Princess,” a play off of Disney’s Princess Tiana from “The Princess and the Frog.” Now, Royal Entertainment is diversifying characters such as the “Snow Sisters” similar in appearance to Elsa and Anna from Disney’s “Frozen” movies.

Because Royal Entertainment doesn’t use officially licensed Disney characters, they have the freedom to progress past the traditional appearances of most Disney princesses. 

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Credit Ashley Marino / Freeze the Moment 4Ever Photography
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Freeze the Moment 4Ever Photography

Jehieli De-Jesus is the Owner of Royal Entertainment. She says she feels it’s important for children to see inclusivity in their favorite characters

“It all starts in childhood,” De-Jesus said. “So, if we can put some positive representation out there for everyone to be inspired by then I feel like that's something really important that we can do just with our little character company, you know, so a little small step we can make towards inclusivity, diversity, and representation for all.”

Joy Pointe is one of the Black actresses working for Royal Entertainment. She typically plays Princess

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Credit Freeze The Moment 4Ever Photography Ashley Marino
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via Royal Entertainment Character Co. Instagram
Joy Pointe as the Bayou Princess

Tiana look-a-like the Bayou Princess. Pointe said when she was growing up she felt disregarded as a child because none of her favorite characters looked like her.

 

She said even in Disney’s 2009 film “The Princess and the Frog,” which debuted the company’s first Black princess, Princess Tiana was portrayed as a frog for most of the movie.

“I thought, ‘Where am I as a princess and do they care that I want to see me there?’ It's showing kids we do care, we see you, and we want you to feel seen, feel loved, feel represented,” Pointe said. “Before there was a Tiana I leaned heavily towards Esmeralda from Hunchback of Notre Dom who's not even a princess, she’s a traveling Gypsy, she’s looked down upon.”

De-Jesus said it took the recent protests to open her eyes an inclusive idea that she described as right in front of her years. 

“It took the riots and protests to open my eyes to something so simple, you know, and that's part of the awareness that we're trying to help other people achieve too,” De-Jesus said. “I remember I would ask everyone to pick a princess to dress up as. Joy would joke about being Elsa and we all replied with ‘haha’, and then it finally hit. I don't know why it took me so long. But finally, I thought ‘Why not? It's my business.’”

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Credit Ashley Marino / Freeze the Moment 4Ever Photography
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Freeze the Moment 4Ever Photography

De-Jesus says her company has received only positive responses to the idea. Actresses are still actively making appearances and abiding by all state and local COVID-19 restrictions and mandates. 

 

Pointe says she loves her typical character roles but can’t wait for this new experience.

“I liked Cinderella and some others before that, but it was just like, nobody really represents me though,” Pointe said. “So I can’t wait. It's showing kids that your favorite character that you didn't think you could see in a different color, you can, and you are just as much of a princess.”

Most photographs for this article were provided by Freeze The Moment 4Ever Photography.

Hannah is a Murray State Journalism major. She found her place in radio during her second year in Murray. She is from Herndon, KY, a small farming community on the Kentucky/Tennessee stateline.
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