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The Cast Of Characters
TIANA (voice of Anika Noni Rose) is certainly not the typical fairy-tale princess. Her daydreams are not of faraway kingdoms or castles in the clouds, but of personal success and a thriving business. "She has dreams of opening the finest restaurant in all of New Orleans,” says screenwriter Rob Edwards. "It's a dream that's been instilled in her from her father.” Tiana is an attractive and independent African-American woman, hardworking and strong-willed, but still a loving and loyal friend and a compassionate soul. She treasures her mother and holds her father near and dear to her heart, and although she knows the way won't be easy, believes that she can achieve her ambitions if she works hard enough.

In her sensible pursuit of her life's goals, however, Tiana doesn't really appreciate what is happening on her way to them. She can never simply slow down and enjoy herself. She has no time for romance, and is certainly not about to waste her time mooning over men—let alone kissing any frogs.

Supervising animator Mark Henn, who is behind Disney heroines Ariel ("The Little Mermaid”), Belle ("Beauty and the Beast”) and Jasmine ("Aladdin”), found Tiana particularly appealing. "I think you can more easily identify with her, or want to cheer her on. Our animated leading ladies have evolved over the decades, from just being ‘princesses in peril' like Snow White— characters to whom events happen, rather than figures of action motivating their own story. It was an easy character to fall in love with and get in her corner. Tiana has her own motivating desire, and decisions that drive her and make her interesting and sympathetic.”

Edwards says his niece can't wait to meet Tiana. "Every time I talk to her, she says, ‘Oh, tell me about the princess!' I can't wait for her to see the movie.”

The alluring qualities of New Orleans drew PRINCE NAVEEN (voice of Bruno Campos) from his far-off kingdom of Maldonia. Although spoiled and irresponsible, Naveen has an irresistible charm and joie de vivre that captivate those around him, and a passion for the Dixieland jazz being popularized by Paul Whiteman, Jimmie Noone, Earl Hines, King Oliver, Jelly Roll Morton and Louis Armstrong.

Naveen's supervising animator Randy Haycock has animated classic Disney characters, including Simba ("The Lion King”) and Powhatan ("Pocahontas”). "Disney has a long tradition of princes, but we've never had a prince that really influenced a heroine,” says Haycock. "It was always love at first sight. For once we have a girl that meets a guy and it follows a romantic-comedy idea where the couple meet and they really don't like each other.”

Like anyone, Naveen's flaws are actually part of his virtues. The heroine has a flaw, too—she doesn't know how to appreciate life. She doesn't know how to enjoy herself. "And that's what Naveen teaches her,” Haycock says. "He teaches her to settle down once in a while and simply appreciate what's going on. Have some fun, enjoy, be happy with what you have around you.”

DR. FACILIER (voice of Keith David) is a devious scoundrel, the shadowy figure of threat who causes no shortage of predicament and menace to Prince Naveen and Tiana. He's a smooth operator who works his magical spells and uses his connection to "friends on the other side” to get what he wants by way of his mysterious, menacing and dangerous charm. "He's musical, he's threatening, he's tall, he's lean, he's thin. He can be very sweet. He's handsome. He's graceful. And I think all that stuff is, in very contemporary animation anyway, rare to see that type of villain,” says Bruce Smith, supervising animator of Dr. Facilier. "It's always great as an animator to get the villain, and the villain is always that character that holds up the film and keeps everything interesting and on edge. Lucki

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