Princess and the Frog - Eudora, Tiana and James
Princess and the Frog - Eudora, Tiana and James © Disney

With The Princess and the Frog Walt Disney Animation Studios returns to hand-drawn animation. It’s also a return to musicals and the telling of a classic fairy tale … with a twist.

Set in New Orleans, the movie features a beautiful girl named Tiana (Nika Noni Rose), and a frog, Prince, Naveen (Bruno Campos), who desperately wants to be human again. Unlike the original fairy tale, where the frog is kissed and turns into a Prince, Tiana turns into a frog which lead them both on a hilarious adventure through the bayou in search of help from Mama Odie (Jenifer Lewis), the 197-year-old Queen of the Bayou.

In the movie, Terrence Howard voices the role of Tiana’s father, James, and although it’s not a large part, the actor is more than proud to be included in this historic film that finally present the children of the world with an African American princess.

Terrence, you are a great presence in the film, even though your character is only in it for a short time. How long was your recording process for this?

Princess and the Frog - Terrence Howard
Terrence Howard and his cartoon character James © Disney

I thought that I was fired. They said they were bringing me back to do some more stuff, and then a month went by and another month went by, and I thought, “Oh, man.”

As the first Disney animated feature with an African American princess, what do you think this film will mean to people?

When they began the production on this film, during the initial talks, Barack Obama wasn’t in the White House. So, it’s very apropos that we have two African American princesses, at the same time that this movie is coming out. It’s just a happy accident. But, there’s always been nobility, in every culture and every race, and there are geniuses, in every culture and every race. It’s nice to have Disney platform that.

How was the role of James for you to play?

It’s really one of the easiest roles I’ve ever done because I was talking to my own little girls. I’ve got two daughters, who are my princesses. They gave me the words, but the inspiration of how to say it came from the natural inclination to teach my own children.

What are you hoping for with this film?

That this movie will set a landmark and a precedent for other culturally diverse films. I’m very happy that Disney took this step, and I’m looking forward to seeing more of it. Disney has always covered most of the world, in the films that they have made. The Little Mermaid was a fish, but every little girl could relate to that. With Mickey and Minnie Mouse, you never wondered whether they were black or white. Every child can relate and associate with them.

I’m just looking forward to the numbers coming back and this film doing very well. I’m very happy to have participated.


Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter.