4 Stories Featuring Women of Color We’d Like to See as Disney Films

In our latest episode of Babes in Wonderland, we discussed the distinct lack of women of color in lead roles. This is an issue in film, tv, literature and more, and as Disney fans we hope that the company continues efforts to make their characters more inclusive and diverse. To aid in that effort we’d like to put forward these 4 amazing women who would be great choices to lead their own Disney film.

 

Image result for Amanirenas

The Story: Amanirenas, The One-Eyed Empress

Amanirenas became empress of Kush after the death of her husband. As empress and regent, she proved herself quickly in both battle and the art of politics. Shortly into her reign, the Romans who had conquered adjacent lands, set their sites on expanding their empire into Kush. However, they did not expect Amanirenas. She lost an eye in one of the battles, but this mighty queen led her troops to victory again and again against the Romans. In the end a treaty was signed, one very favorable to the Kush in which they did not have to pay taxes to the Romans and in which the Romans were required to leave the territory. Hundreds of years later archeologists found a head taken from a bust of Roman Emperor Augustus, under the foot of a representation of the Kush Empress. (Like a boss.)

Why we think this would make a great Disney film: 

Did we also mention that Amanirenas did all of this while caring for a young son? She is inspiring to say the least. We’d love to see what spin Disney could put on this true story.

Who should play the role (in our opinion):

Image result for viola davis

Viola Davis is an acting powerhouse, the strength and wisdom she brings to every role would ensure the Empress is both believable and memorable.

 

Iara

The Story: Iara, The Brazilian River Mermaid

Iara, unlike certain other mermaids we could mention, is not boy crazy or obsessed with land dwellers.  In fact, Iara began life as a human woman, a warrior for her tribe who was considered practically unbeatable. She was also humble, friendly, beautiful and pretty much beloved by all. All that is, except for her two brothers, who felt stifled in her shadow. So of course their solution was to murder their sister. They decide to strike while their sister is sleep, they don’t believe even the two of them together could overpower her and win in a fight unless she’s unconscious apparently. However, Iara awakens during the attack and kills both of them in self defense. Her father, unwilling to listen to her when she says they struck first, takes her to the river and kills her. Charming. After her death, or while she’s dying, the legend is not clear, she is befriended by the fish and other aquatic life who turn her into a half woman-half fish, aka a mermaid. The legend continues on in different veins from this point, some saying that Iara would lure men to their death (much like sirens) and some say that she would lure men to her and then they too would become mer-people and live in her harem (way cooler).

Why we think this would make a great Disney film: 

A love of mermaids is something most young children, espeically girls, experience at one time or another. It’s unfortunate that the main example of what a mermaid is and could be is Ariel. We would love to see a new representation, a wronged warrior on a mission to clear her name perhaps? Obviously, Disney would have to tone down all the murder.

Who should play the role (in our opinion):

Image result for tais araujo actress

Tais Araujo is almost majestically beautiful in appearance and strong in her portrayal of women on Brazilian television. We could easily see her slipping through the water as the warrior turned mermaid Iara.

 

The Story: Thákane – The Dragon-Slaying South African Princess

A combination of Cinderella and an Amazon queen, Thákane was a princess who went to defeat a dragon so that her two lazy brothers would have clothes to wear to “warrior school” that would make them look like badasses. No really, that’s how the story goes. She leads a group of the toughest warriors to go collect the pelt of an elusive breed of water dragon. She eventually succeeds and returns home victorious with shields and armour for her brothers.

Why we think this would make a great Disney film: 

Okay, admittedly as it is, this story leaves a lot to be desired. Thákane does all the work with no thanks and is just expected to go back to the home after her adventures. However, the outline for a story of a young woman finding strength in herself and battling dangerous creatures is there. The tale could easily be adjusted and retold in an inspiring and empowering way for young women of color. Plus, tough princess battling dragons? What’s not to love?

Who should play the role (in our opinion):

Image result for samira wiley

Samira Wiley; she’s cool, talented and truly underutilized outside of Orange is the New Black. This role could allow her to stretch her acting chops and bring to life the tough but loving warrior princess.

 

anahit

The Story: Anahit, The Queen Who Made the King Get a Job

The story of Anahit is really well laid out in the amazing comic by Rejected Princesses, which can be found via the link above. But for those of you with limited time, let me sum it up for you. Vachagan, a prince living a life of idleness is journeying somewhere when he comes across a beautiful young woman at a well, this is Anahit. He finds her enchanting and is enthralled by her wisdom. She however thinks him silly and strange. Once the prince returns home, he decides that he must marry Anahit and sends his best friend to get her father’s permission for the marriage. However, her father being progressive for Ancient Armenia, says that they must get his daughter’s permission, not his, as it is her decision. So his friend goes to Anahit and asks if she’d like to marry the prince. She says that she will not marry a man who does not have a job, basically, being a lazy prince with no responsibilities is not going to cut it for her. So, the prince’s friend tells him what Anahit has said. The prince works hard and becomes a weaver. They are married and Anahit helps to rule the kingdom as the prince goes missing shortly after their marriage. However, it turns out he was kidnapped by someone who is using him for slave labor, not knowing he is the prince. The prince weaves a message into the cloth that his kidnapper attempts to sell to the queen (the kidnapper is illiterate), and then the queen goes and rescues him.

Why we think this would make a great Disney film: 

There’s a lot that goes on in this story. There are themes regarding the importance of education and responsibility. The love story exemplifies people working to be worthy of each other, and Anahit is strong, confident and smart. This tale could easily be made into a family friendly and enchanting Disney film.

Who should play the role (in our opinion):

Image result for gal gadot

Gal Gadot, this Israeli actress has proven she can be tough, see Wonder Woman. We’d love to see her take that strength and parlay it into the more subtle, but no less powerful, visage of Anahit.

 

Those are our picks, what are your thoughts?

 

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