Lion King is a movie that impacted a generation. I don’t think I’ve met a single person, young or old that dislikes this movie. From the phenomenal soundtrack to the vibrant characters and engaging plot, Lion King demonstrated that an animated kids movie can transcend its genre and touch the world. This film came alive at the beginning of Disney’s renaissance, a period between 1989 - 1999 when there was a creative resurgence in Walt Disney Animation Studios that saw them produce one successful movie after the other. From this resurgence birthed diversity in characters and story telling, we traveled to Arabia to ride on Aladdin’s magic carpet, fought to protect Imperial China with Fa Mulan, challenged colonialism with Pocahontas, went from zero to hero with Hercules, and swung through the jungles of Africa with Tarzan.
As a kid, I latched unto all these stories, because in a way I could connect with them way more than I could connect to Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. 8 Year old Wandy saw parts of herself in Pocahontas, Mulan and Jasmine. I could identify with the common problems that these princesses of colour faced, like the pressure one feels from their home culture, or finding one’s self is torn between two worlds, one new and one old. As time progressed and we entered into the 2000s Disney experienced a second renaissance that saw us welcome more female protagonist’s of colour, like Tiana a girl from the rich bayou’s of New Orleans to a high - spirited Polynesian princess by the name of Moana. The more female animated characters of colour I see grace the cinema screens the happier I become, because it’s vital for young girls to see that they too can have adventures and wild creative dreams and that these dreams do not only belong to a certain demographic.