It’s been a busy few years for Anika Noni Rose. After starting her career in the Broadway musical Footloose, she snagged a role as part of the starry ensemble in 2004’s Dreamgirls and made the transition to the big screen. Perfect qualifications, then, for her latest role as Disney’s newest princess, Tiana, in The Princess and the Frog. Beating out tough competition from Alicia Keys, Tyra Banks and her Dreamgirls co-star Jennifer Hudson, the 37 year-old actress is making headlines as Disney’s first black princess, and has been touring the world to support the company’s return to hand-drawn fairy-tales.
Sitting down with RT at Walt Disney Animations Studios’ Burbank HQ, Rose shares her five (or six) favourite films.
I love East of Eden, there’s so much passion. I was reading about how it was made, and how it was such a new thing for James Dean to be doing. One of those scenes was really improvisational between he and his father or mother, and he has this burst of emotion that came from nowhere, that he didn’t even understand. He had such virility in that movie — I love it.
That’s something I always wanted to do, damn that Keira Knightley! The costumes are phenomenal in that movie, the message is fantastic and there’s just a grandeur and beauty in the scope. We don’t even make movies with that kind of scope anymore; I don’t think anybody would sit there for that long for that movie anymore. It’s about being yourself, and not forgetting yourself really. Even though you move forward or you move up, you still are you. When they’re at that racetrack she’s talking to the horse and she’s going, “Go Clover,” and then she goes crazy shouting, “Move your arse, Clover!” And she’s got that phenomenal hat, fantastic dress on, but she’s Eliza Doolittle you know? I love that movie, and why can’t a woman be more like a man? I love that song; I love his confusion with that.
There’s something so twisted and sick — that man is sitting there on that train and he just looks so banal and smiling, and he is a killer. It’s really a crazy movie.
Oh I just love Fantasia. I played that for my nephew when he was two, and I don’t believe in popping children in front of the television as a babysitter, but I feel like, you know what? “I’m introducing you to classical music; I’m introducing you to classic cartoons, so watch it!” It’s a beautiful way to take music and to take your mind to a place of no words.
The Princess and the Frog is in cinemas now.
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