Roundtable on Moana, Disney, and Diversity

Hear, hear! Hear, Hear! A new princess has surfed her way to the diverse Disney throne. Moana joins the Ohana of Disney Princesses and it makes us think about diversity in Disney’s films.

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Lindsey shared a link about Moana with the team via our group chat:

Margaux: I’m getting more and more excited about Moana! The peeps working on the music are awesome as well; Lin-Manuel Miranda forever owning my heart!

Estee: Cool! So I know Disney is diversifying, but what are some other ethnicities they need to add?

Christine: I hope the actress who voices Moana is of pan-Asian descent as well. So they are not only representing but also employing more diversely.

: Yes! It also makes the character more “authentic” in my opinion. (Editor’s note: We had this conversation before the casting announcement.)

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Estee: So what are some other ethnicities they could add? Do they have a Latina princess? I’d like to see that or even a Bali one.

Lindsey: I don’t think they do.

Christine: No, they don’t have a Latina or Hispanic princess. Definitely necessary.

Estee: Christine I totally agree. I wonder what a good story would be?

I’d not only like to see Hispanic and Bali princesses maybe even Jewish and African (by that I mean from Africa, not African American). Sadly I don’t think we’d ever see gay or lesbian main characters because it wouldn’t be considered “kid-friendly.”

Plus I feel like that would be a totally different kind of fairy tale because the current princess are all based off of some old traditional story or legend. I feel like that would be a more modern story.

Christine: Maybe do a modern spin on some of the lesser known tales. I know there are a bunch from Grimm. Also, a possibility would be the telling of a story/folklore tied to that country/culture. There have to be tons that unless you are part of that culture you would know nothing about it.
It would be neat to see the tales retold as well, in a modern sense. Gender swapping for example. I thought of that from all of the gender swapping seen in cosplay these days.

Lindsey: There are so many Disney hasn’t touched. I am waiting for The Wild Swans which is Irish and the 12 Dancing Princesses which could be any culture really.

Christine: Barbie did the 12 Dancing Princesses about 6 years ago. Of course, no diversity was represented. Would love for The Wild Swans. Reminds me of a book I read, turned into a book series that I need to read.

Moana Disney Diversity

Hadas: Disney recently said there will be storylines that affect both boys and girls in Frozen 2. Think there will be more gender representation and types of personalities now? (Anna being love struck and typical yet Hans being devious.. Merida not interested in love at the moment…)

Christine: Hmmm…I would hope so but am skeptical.

Estee: I’d be interested to see what they mean. I liked Brave for breaking away from the typical boy saves the girl story. Society talks about how these stories teach girls to rely on men and not be independent. In the same line of thought, it puts a lot of pressure on boys to be Prince Charming and jump to the rescue. Boys need to be shown chivalry is ok, but that women can also take care of themselves.

Christine: I agree. A more balanced approach, the genders can come together as equal rather than one being stronger than the other.

Estee: And they don’t always HAVE to fall in love. They can just be friends.

Hadas: Any stories from your home countries that you wish Disney would portray- or some other tales you feel are missing out not necessarily from where you’re from?

Larissa: I’ve already got Rapunzel aka Tangled, even though hardly anyone knows it’s based in Germany I feel?

Lindsey: I can see that with the fashion and braids and little hints like that.

Margaux: Not really. I think France has been covered nicely by Disney over the years, plus I’m not too into Disney’s adaptations of tales, not that they’re bad, but I’m just not drawn to it!

Hadas: Margaux, do you think they are doing a good job diversifying lately? Anything they’re missing?

Margaux: Big Hero 6 was a nice change, that’s true, but I don’t think so. There’s a lot they could do and they’re not doing it in my opinion when it comes to their animated movies.

Hadas: Margaux, I liked the original comment you wrote before you deleted it. :P

Margaux: Ahahah, I was a bit mean, but I’m often angry with Disney! The last “princesses” we had (Rapunzel from Tangled, Merida from Brave (even if technically it’s Pixar), Anna and Elsa from Frozen ..), they all look alike, the stories are not so far apart, they’re nothing really original or different, it’s like watching the same thing over and over again!

They had potential and I don’t know what happened! Of course, the recent Inside Out was incredible but it’s an exception. Their typical princesses kind of movies are a complete failure.

Hadas: Yep. Especially what you mentioned about for every five Anna and Elsa’s there is one Tiana or Lilo (in the deleted message).

Yep, because many of these are stories from specific places they do need to match their looks to that area. Scandanavians are typically fair-skinned, but maybe there should be a more even mix, or a better balance.

Belle for example (all those years ago) could have been a bit browner. Many of the French people I know are expert tanners. :P Ariel is a mermaid, she could have been whatever color they wanted. Italian, Greek, those could be cool and could possibly NOT be super white. Hoping Moana is going to be just the beginning!

What Do YOU Think of Disney’s Attempts at Diversity?


  • I am so excited for Moana! I was raised with a Disney that was more diverse, and I miss those days. I’m happy to see someone other than another white princess on the big screen! I love all the recent princesses of course, but Disney could and should do better about being inclusive to all. They could do so much more!

    • Any countries you’d like to see represented? I’m really excited about Moana too!
      I feel like the aboriginal people of Australia are still having a tough time now and that could be a very difficult subject to discuss for kids (kind of like how Pocahontas was controversial), but I’d love to see their culture represented more.

      • I agree, they could use some representation as well. I would like to see a real African princess! Spain definitely had princesses too, an Indian princess. Maybe even a futuristic one that isn’t white too. My background (Scottish) has already been represented, so I would be very happy with anything. :)

      • Ooh good picks.
        Did you enjoy Brave? I LOVED it, but I know others had mixed feelings.