Brandy & Other Black Artists Help Kick Off Disney's World Princesses Week
Photo Credit: Walt Disney World

Photo Credit: Walt Disney World

Brandy & Other Black Artists Help Kick Off Disney's World Princesses Week

black owned business , anaheim , Orlando , United States , Walt Disney World
Parker Diakite
Parker Diakite Aug 23, 2022

It’s officially World Princesses Week at Disney–where the world joins together in celebrating their favorite princesses.

Speaking of favorite princesses, guess what 1990s kids? Our favorite Cinderella, Brandy, helped to kick off the royal week looking just as regal as she did in the movie.

“Having starred in the title role in The Wonderful World of Disney, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s ‘Cinderella,’ Brandy is the perfect artist to breathe the heart and soul into World Princess Week through her beautiful performance of ‘Starting Now,'” Disney released in a statement.

The Grammy-award- winning artist performed in front of the Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland Resort in California. Disney says “Starting Now” is the theme song of its second annual princess celebration.

RELATED: Dooky Chase’s: The Black-Owned Restaurant That Inspired Disney’s Princess And The Frog

For those of who us watched the groundbreaking live-action film in 1997, it was surreal watching America’s first Black Cinderalla let alone other cultural icons Whoopi Goldberg and Whitney Houston.

Little did we know, a little more than a decade later, Disney’s first Black Princess would enter the scene.

Local Artist Debuts New Princess Tiana Art

Frogs Nightclub
Sharika Mahdi | New Orleans

While every Disney princess is special, Travel Noire is team, Princess Tiana because of the representation of “us” and New Orleans’ Black culture. Not to mention, she is Disney’s first Black princess.

It’s a special week for those who love the Bayou-beauty just as much as we do. Disney has unveiled a second piece of artwork from New Orleans artist Shakira Mahdi during World Princess Week. Her work has inspired Walt Disney Imagineering as they embark on creating new attractions at the theme parks based on the 2009 film The Princess and the Frog. 

Mahdi was selected by Disney through a partnership with the youth art program Young Aspirations Young Artists Inc. – also known in New Orleans as YAYA.

“My artwork is very musical, very happy, very whimsical, and family-oriented,” Mahdi tells Travel Noire. “From a subconscious level, it comes from my experience in New Orleans. [I grew up] around the Second Line, family, and the food [such as] gumbo, the traditions of sitting on the porch and listening to all sounds on the city streets … and just overall being happy.”

Her latest piece, is a beautiful expression of – in her own words – the things that makes New Orleans great.

In her second piece of the four she’s creating for Walt Disney Imagineering, frogs are playing instruments along the Bayou with a beautiful sunset over the water. You can’t help but think of a beautiful night on Bourbon Street where musical artists set up a street concert for all to enjoy. You may also think of Frenchmen Street, known for its Jazz clubs and live music on any given day.

Her work is a love letter to New Orleans and Walt Disney Imagineering wouldn’t have it any other way as they prepare for their next attraction honoring Princess Tiana and Crescent City.

What To Know About Tiana's Bayou Attraction

Tiana Mardigras
Sharika Mahdi’s first piece created for Disney Imagineering

Disney announced during Essence Fest 2022 that its iconic Splash Mountain attractions will be transformed into a musical journey with Tiana and Friends. The reimagined attraction called Tiana’s Bayou Attraction is expected to appear inside Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, and Disneyland Park in Anaheim.

With all of Disney’s attractions, research is critical for Walt Disney Imagineering to ultimately give guests an authentic experience, which is why they partnered with New Orleans locals, including artist Sharika Mahdi.

“We’ve got this unique opportunity for those who fell in love with her initially from the film to bring a next chapter story to our guests while introducing her to a whole new generation,” Charita Carter,  executive producer for relevancy activations at Walt Disney Imagineering, tells Travel Noire. “We want to ensure that even though Princess Tiana is a fantastical character, her culture and the place she comes from are real.”

When the ride opens in late 2024, Carter says Walt Disney Imagineering dedicated a great deal of time and research into making sure the magic in both New Orleans and Disney go hand-in-hand by bringing the authenticity of the Big Easy to the beloved parks.

If you can’t wait until 2024 to experience the latest attraction, the newest Princess Tiana doll was unveiled during World Princess Week, which you can purchase here.

Let the good times roll!

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Walt Disney World

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