Disney 100 Years of Wonder: Top 7 Black Characters

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The Disney 100 Years of Wonder is a celebration to mark Walt Disney’s 100th anniversary. The corporation was founded on 16 October 1923 in Los Angeles, California. It was known as The Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio and operated as Walt Disney Productions and Walt Disney Studio before it adopted its current name, Walt Disney, in 1986. 

Over the years, the company has produced iconic films and shows like The Lion King and That’s So Raven, featuring black actors, some of whom were part of your childhood. In this article, we’ll tell you about them, what shows they featured in, and where they are today.

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Anika Noni Rose

Disney 100 Years of Wonder: Top 7 Black Characters
Anika Noni Rose is meeting fans in New York City. Source: Wikimedia licensed by  Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0

If there’s one thing you’d want to celebrate during Disney’s 100 Years of Wonder is Anika Noni Rose’s achievement. Her role as Princess Tiana in The Princess and the Frog made her the first Disney’s African-American princess. 

Speaking about the role, she said it’ll remain one of the most amazing things because of its cultural significance. 

Although this is one of her standout movies, she’s been cast in several others, like Dreamgirl” and the Starz series Power. In 2011, Anike was honored as a Disney Legend.

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Chiwetel Ejiofor

Chiwetel signing autographs for fans. Source: Instagram

The British actor was part of Disney’s most iconic movie, The Lion King. He voiced the character of Scar in the remake of the film in 2019 and received praise for how he brought it out. 

Scar was in line to inherit the throne, but the birth of his nephew Simba dashed his dreams. This left him bitter and drove him to plot a takeover of the kingdom. 

Speaking about the role, Ejiofor said he wanted to understand the psychology of someone who seems to be at odds with fate and how that changes somebody. 

This wasn’t his only Disney film. He was also featured in Doctor Strange. Away from Disney, Ejiofor was part of: 

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Keke Palmer

Keke Palmer sitting at a table. Source: Instagram

Keke Palmer should be on your list of Disney 100 Years of Wonder. She has evolved to be a global celebrity. Before she was featured on Disney Channel, she first appeared in Barbershop 2: Back in Business and then received her break-out role in Akeelah and the Bee

On Disney, Palmer was Jump In, in which she played the role of Mary Thomas. The film was about a teenager whose father wanted to do boxing but Palmer introduced him to rope jumping.  

Speaking about all the skills they learnt, Palmer admitted that they were difficult but learned how to do them. Additionally, she was also in Disney’s movie It’s My Turn Now

Apart from acting, Palmer is also a singer. Her release of the song So UnCool has produced other songs and launched her record company.  

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Kyle Massey

Disney 100 Years of Wonder: Top 7 Black Characters
Kyle Massey (Dancing With the Stars) celebrates the release of “Just Dance 4. Source: Wikimedia licensed by  CC-BY-SA-2.0

Kyle Massey played the role of Cory Baxter in That’s So Raven. He was the annoying brother to Raven, who perfectly captured the role of a brother. Massey is also featured in Cory in the House.

The show followed his move from San Francisco to Washington after his father got a job in the White House. It was Disney’s first spinoff. In 2021, Massey landed a gig on a comedy sitcom, Millenials, on AMC Network and a movie titled Dutch.

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Raven-Symoné

Raven of “That’s So Raven”. Source: Instagram

One of the black characters you should celebrate during Disney’s 100 Years of Wonder is Raven Baxter. She was the lead actress on That’s So Raven, one of Disney’s first shows centered around a minority family. Also, Raven was the youngest black woman to have a show named after her.

In the program, Raven possessed powers, demonstrating that women can be successful. She deconstructed the stereotypical portrayals of black women in the media. She was fun, adventurous, humoros and more. Furthermore, the show addressed racism in the workplace. 

In 2017, she reprised her role in the show renamed Ravens Home. The difference is that she’s a single mother working to control her powers. Additionally, she was on the daytime television show The View

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Taylor McKessie

Taylor McKessie in different films. Video Credit High School Musical

If you want to learn the importance of friendships while celebrating Disney 100 Years of Wonder, you need to watch High School Musical. She played the role of Monique Coleman and was in three seasons of the show. 

In 2006, she competed in Dancing with the Stars and finished fourth. Five years later, she reunited with Corbin Bleu, who was also part of HSM, for A Christmas Dance Reunion. In 2022, McKessie was named among the HSM cast to appear in season 4 of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series

Zendaya

Zendaya’s song Euphoria. Source: Instagram

Zendaya is one of the biggest Hollywood stars today. She got her start in Disney’s show Shake It Up in which she portrayed the character Rocky Blue alongside Cece Jones. The two had dreams of becoming professional dancers and ended up getting a place in a popular dance show, Shake It Up

Zendaya has now appeared in several films like Euphoria, Dune, and Spider-Man: No Way Home. Plus, she ventured into music and produced songs like Swag It Out, her first single, Something New, Replay and I’m Tired. That said, she walked away from the industry, citing that it doesn’t provide her the anonymity she wants. 

As you go down memory lane during Disneys 100 Years of Wonder, you’ll encounter these amazing black actors who contributed to the success of the film company. It’ll also take you back to your childhood, as they were a huge part of our experiences. 

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