I remember seeing ‘Snow White and saying to my mother,’Will there ever be a Chocolate Brown?’ She said ‘Probably. Why not?’ I just never thought the first black princess would be me.- Anika Noni Rose
She has been described as a slight (as in petite) actress with a big voice. If you add to that description critically acclaimed supporting actress in an Emmy nominated HBO series and a Golden Globe winning film, Tony Award winner and now the voice of the first black Disney princess…who you have is the incomparable Anika Noni Rose.
Anika is the daughter of Claudia and John Rose, Jr. Born in Bloomfield, Connecticut Anika was bit by the acting bug during her freshman year of high school when she appeared in a school production. She carried her new found passion for acting to college when she attended Florida A&M University and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Theatre. It wasn’t long before Anika packed up her bags and moved to San Francisco, California to hone her dramatic acting skills at the prestigious American Conservatory Theatre. Alumni of the school include such notable actors as Denzel Washington, Annette Bening, Winona Ryder, Benjamin Bratt and Danny Glover to name a few.
Upon leaving the A.C.T., it was time for Anika to do what any self respecting actress would do…beat the pavement for a job. She relocated to none other than the big apple (New York), sans job, determined to make it on Broadway. After only three months Anika was able to secure the role of Rusty in Broadway’s Footloose. From this point forward she enjoyed a steady stream of roles, workshops and musicals until her big break in 2004 when she played the role of Caroline’s daughter in the hit Broadway musical, Caroline, or Change. It was her break out performance in this musical that won her a Tony award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical.
Anika’s movie debut came in 1999 as the “film noir female” in King of the Bingo Game. But it was her turn as Lorrell Robinson in the 2006 film adaptation of the hit Broadway musical Dreamgirls that made everyone stand up and take notice. She stared alongside Beyonce Knowles, Jennifer Hudson, Jamie Foxx and Eddie Murphy. Earlier this year, HBO showcased Anika’s dramatic and comedic talent alongside Jill Scott in the series The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency directed by Anthony Minghella.
As if winning a Tony award and critical acclaim were not enough, Anika is now the inspiration and voice of a character that will live on in the hearts of many young girls for decades to come. She is the voice and likeness for Princess Tiana, the first black Disney princess in the animated hit, The Princess and The Frog. Kudos to Disney for finally making change happen on this front and in our eyes, they could not have picked a better actress.
Check out Anika on Christmas Day in this ABC special featuring music from The Princess and The Frog.