How to be a disney princess

Ever since I was a little girl, I always admired the Disney princesses. When I got the opportunity to meet them in person I was even more enamored with their beauty and poise. Unfortunately in adulthood I realized that the beautiful princesses I had seen as a child were merely talented actresses, however I soon reached the epiphany that maybe one day I could be one of those actresses bringing dreams to life! As I prepare for my first audition for Disney I wanted to find out exactly what it takes to be a Disney Princess and here’s what I found.

1. Height Requirement: For most of the princesses there is a height requirement between 5’4 and 5’7 to help preserve character integrity as well as costume fitting.

2. Sizing: The largest size Disney carries for their princess costumes is size 10. Former Disney princesses have stated in their blogs that they have found these to be true to size.

3. Auditioning: To be a character at the parks, you must go through the audition process. Check out the audition calendar at DisneyAuditions.com to find your nearest audition. Look for the auditions that say Female Character Look-Alike and this usually means they are looking for princesses. At the audition you will learn a simple dance routine, and if you progress past the dance, you will get a chance to read a script, do some improve and an interview. It can be a very lengthy process, but Disney casting directors are keen on finding the best girls to fit the roles.

4. Age: Disney is very specific on the age. You have to be at least 18 years old to audition and you have to be legal to work in the U.S. Most face characters are 18-23 according to a former Disney princess during her AMA (Ask Me Anything) session on Reddit last year. It is rare to find a princess over 27 but it is not uncommon for princesses to be 24-26 if they’ve been there awhile.

5. Make-Up: Luckily if you are cast as a princess, you are supplied with make-up and are taught how to apply it properly. This is to ensure that all the Snow Whites look the same, all the Belles, all the Auroras, etc. This helps to keep that character integrity.

6. Training: Disney trains their princesses for five days and it is usually an extensive analysis of the film. You will learn your character’s mannerisms and voice inflection, as well as the standard signature every princess has.

7. Strict Rules: While working for the Disney parks, you are not allowed to discuss what character you are portraying. You can’t post about it on social media and you can’t even tell people which character you are. Disney is very strict about that. Very. Princesses also cannot reference anything outside the Disney realm. Ariel cannot say she is friends with Spongebob, for example.

8. Miscellaneous Requirements: A great place to look for more information about being a Disney princess is Jennifer Oakes’ YouTube channel. She performed as Jasmine and Pocahontas and she has some wonderful videos about how to do your character make-up and what the work day is like as a princess. She has three videos called Confessions of Former Disney Princesses, and they are very informative and worth watching!

9. Work Contracts: Disney offers full time roles, which must be at least one full year of service. They do offer part-time and seasonal roles for face characters as well. You can also be a character if you are in the Disney College Program, though you might not get the best shifts because DCP participants are the lowest on the totem pole.

10. Weather: Cinderella, Rapunzel, Anna and Elsa are usually are stationed inside at the Magic Kingdom but most other princesses in the MK and other parks are outside. You have to be able to handle the extreme heat in the Orlando summer as well as the chilly winter weather that does happen around Christmas.

Bonus Tip!

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11. Improv skills: You need to know everything about your character and ready to answer any questions thrown your way. If a child asks Rapunzel where Pascal is, she needs to have an answer ready to go.

12. Smiling: Be ready to smile while you are “on set” as they say. You have to keep that smile because princesses are never sad or upset. A former Belle interviewed by Cosmo said her face hurt the first couple weeks from her constant smiling.

13. Uncomfortable Guest Situations: Princesses get the wonderful job of making dreams come true for children, however you also will have guests situations that make you uncomfortable. Former princesses have discussed having to fend off creepy men or guests who have been inappropriate to them. It can be awkward and scary but princesses have to find away to control the situation while keeping the guests happy.

It’s not easy to be a princess, but in the end it’s worth it to bring joy to thousands every day.

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There’s a new filter that TikTok users are obsessed with called the Disney Princess Filter – here’s how to find it on Instagram.

Every girl’s childhood dream was to be a Disney Princess, and now you can actually be one! Well, kind of.

There’s a new Instagram filter that’s going viral on TikTok that turns you into a Disney princess-like character, and here’s exactly how to get it.

  • EXPLAINED: Festive Facebook scam fools users

What is the Disney Princess TikTok Filter?

Have you ever wanted to see what you’d look like as a Disney princess? Well, now you can thanks to this Instagram filter.

The Disney Princess Filter isn’t actually new, but it’s recently gained popularity after it started going viral on TikTok, and lots of users have been sharing photos and videos of themselves as a Disney princess using the hashtag #DisneyPrincessFilter.

It’s similar to the Disney Eyes Filter that went viral earlier this year, but this one changes your eyes, lips, nose, face and adds small sparkles to your screen to completely Disney-fy you.

I DID NOT EXPECT HER TO LOOK THAT GOOD ?? @kristin_marino #fy #fyp #foryou #disneyprincess

How to get the Disney Princess Filter on Instagram

The Disney Princess Filter is really popular on TikTok, but to use it you actually have to head to Instagram.

  • Open Instagram and go to the search bar.
  • Search the username ‘paigepiskin’.
  • Click on her profile and click on the smiley face in the bar above the photo grid to bring up the filters she has created.
  • Scroll down until you find the filter called ‘sweet princess’ or ‘cartoon princess’.
  • Click on the filter and press ‘try it’.
  • Apply the filter to your face and take your photo or video.
  • Save it to your camera roll.
  • Now you can upload it to TikTok.

Twitter users react to the filter

The filter has gained so much popularity on TikTok that people have been reacting to it on Twitter, and it’s quickly become one of the most popular Instagram filters of November.

One Twitter user said: “Just tried that Insta filter that apparently makes u look like a cartoon Disney princess and I’m unrecognizable in a good way.”

“Why cant I look like that Disney princess Instagram filter irl sigh,” said another.

Another person said: “LOOK AT THIS FILTER MANNN. IT’S SO PRETTY?! I’M A DISNEY PRINCESS NOW.”

  • TIKTOK: Avan Jogia is on Alt TikTok

Did you know that there’s an official line-up of Disney Princesses? Yes, fans can call any character they want a Princess, but only Disney itself decides whether or not she earns the title.

How the Title “Disney Princess” Came to Be

The Disney Princess line-up first came to be during the early 2000s, created as a separate franchise from the films in which the Princesses were introduced. Andy Mooney, the brains behind the operation, came up with the idea to appeal to little girls’ desires to live out the princess fantasy. He and Disney started a whole line of Disney Princess merchandise, which has turned into a pop culture phenomenon in the last decade.

As of 2018, there are 11 Disney Princesses in the official line-up. Believe it or not, they get a whole coronation when they are inducted.

Snow White from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella from Cinderella, and Aurora from Sleeping Beauty are the Princesses of classic Disney. Following them are the Princesses of the Disney Renaissance: Ariel from The Little Mermaid, Belle from Beauty and the Beast, Jasmine from Aladdin, Pocahontas from Pocahontas, and Mulan from Mulan. Then there’s Tiana from The Princess and the Frog, Rapunzel from Tangled, and Merida from Brave.

The Criteria

So how does Disney choose which of its heroines belong in the Disney Princess line-up? There is a set of criteria that can be found online, although it doesn’t seem to have been verified:

1. The heroine must have human-like qualities.
2. The heroine must star in a Disney animated film.
3. The heroine must not be introduced through a sequel.
4. The heroine must be a Princess by blood, marry into a royal family, or show exceptional heroism.
5. The heroine’s film must be a commercial success.

So this means Mulan is in good shape since she saved all of China, but Nala from The Lion King will never be inducted because she’s a lion. And as awesome as Kida from Atlantis: The Lost Empire is, she doesn’t grace the list because her film was a box office failure. So these criteria mostly make sense. Yet there are still Disney fans who debate about what makes a Disney Princess or not.

What Really Makes a Disney Princess?

The question is, if Disney has ever used criteria like this as guidelines for choosing Princess candidates, does the company really care about them? Tinkerbell, who was neither royal nor particularly heroic in Peter Pan (although she did save Peter’s life) used to have Disney Princess status until she was removed from the line-up and given her own book and movie series.

While she plays a significant role in Aladdin, Jasmine is more of a supporting character than a main one. Then there’s Merida, who has a spot on the list even though she’s a Disney Pixar character rather than Disney Animation Studios.

Yet supporting characters like Meg from Hercules, Jane Porter from Tarzan, and Esmeralda from The Hunchback of Notre Dame remain excluded from the list. One would also think Anna and Elsa, who captured the hearts of children everywhere, would make the spot without a problem. Yet four years later, they still haven’t earned their titles.

The Princess Mythology

In Moana, Maui says, “If you wear a dress and you have an animal side kick, then you’re a princess.” Blogger Jon Negroni noticed this line and suggested that this was Disney’s way of trying to put the Disney Princess issue to rest. After all, as daughter of the village chief, Moana doesn’t consider herself a princess. But because Disney owns the Princesses, the company can do whatever it likes.

Supposedly Mooney called the Princesses and the worlds they originated from part of “the Princess mythology.” This was his reasoning for removing Tinkerbell from the line-up, having decided she just didn’t fit.

So perhaps what matters to Disney is not a bunch of criteria in a list, but instead whatever characteristics they think will be marketable to their audience. As great as characters like Esmeralda and Meg may be, it’s the shimmery dresses, quests for love and adventure, and sense of magic that spark a child’s imagination.

The INSIDER Summary:

  • INSIDER spoke with Brianna Smith, who played Rapunzel in Walt Disney World for six months during her Disney College Program.
  • The audition process is rigorous. Even once you have the part, you need to know your character inside out.
  • The guest experience is the most important, even when you’re being tackled by over-eager fans.

It’s every little girl’s dream to become a Disney princess.

For most of us, that fantasy stays firmly rooted in our childhoods. But for Brianna Smith*, a recent college graduate from Provo, Utah, and a handful of other lucky women around the world, being a princess is a real-life career.

INSIDER spoke with Smith, who played Rapunzel (from the Disney movie “Tangled”) during her internship with the Disney College program from January to June in 2014 at Disney World. She gave us the inside scoop on what it’s really like to be princess, how easy it is to get fired, and the gossip that only happens backstage and underneath (yes, underneath!) the Happiest Place on Earth.

Keep scrolling for our favorite secrets, scoops, and gossip from a real-life Disney princess. Be warned: Disney magic spoilers ahead.

* Not her real name

The audition process is super rigorous

When Smith first auditioned to be a Disney princess in Salt Lake City, she was rejected outright. But after applying to and getting into the coveted Disney College Program, which sets college students up with internships and work-study programs at Disney World, Smith decided to try again at an in-house audition.

“There were about 500 of us, and they divide you into rooms of 50. Then they line you up in rows of 10 and study your features,” she said. “It was pretty unnerving. Then, after all of that they said ‘we just need Brianna Smith, thank you.’ And just like that all 49 other girls were eliminated.”

After learning a dance, practicing lines, and facing several eliminations, only three girls out around 500 were picked: a Rapunzel, an Aurora, and a Snow White.

“Of that 450 they didn’t use anyone else, even girls who were fit into costumes and makeup,” she said. “I got really lucky.”

Beauty and looks are (often) more important than talent

“You could look exactly like Ariel and have the voice down but if your boobs are too big, you won’t be playing the Little Mermaid, she said. “Plus, you don’t want to have an uncoordinated Aurora, and if you can’t nail a Scottish accent, you can’t be Merida [. ] I was a musical theater major in college, but a lot of girls had never had any acting experience. It’s more about your facial structure.”

One of the most important aspects of being a princess is uniform height. You have to be between 5’4-5’7 to be a Disney princess, while Disney fairies like Tinkerbell are between 4’11-5’1. Smith, who is 5’7, was on the higher end of that height requirement.

You have to be trained as a furry before becoming a princess

Disney princesses and princes are known in the business as “face characters,” while characters in full face costume that don’t talk (except for the new talking Mickey Mouse), are known as “fur characters.” For the first few weeks after an actress is cast as a Disney princess, she must practice as a “fur character.” Smith was mainly cast as Pluto, but also trained as Mrs. Incredible, one of the Green Army Men from Toy Story, and Rafiki.

“It’s basically like a giant game of charades,” she said, adding that the only downside was working in a head-to-toe costume under the hot Florida sun.

Princesses have to look practically perfect in every way — and if they don’t, they’re in trouble

“The whole idea is when a guest comes one year and they meet the same princess the next year, they will have the exact same experience,” Smith said. “You have to be trained on how to do your makeup the exact same way every single time.”

Smith said that you can get written up for not being perfect, like if a Disney prince forgot to shave (can’t have Prince Eric with 5 o’clock shadow!) or if Cinderella walked in with pink nail polish.

“One time I walked out on set wearing my bright orange tennis sneakers; I had totally forgotten to change!” Smith said. “Luckily, someone spotted me just as they were opening the doors. They had to rush to re-shut the doors before guests came in. I was almost fired on the spot!”

Research means watching the same Disney movie over and over again

If you want to be a Disney princess, you have to know the character inside and out: Her lines, facial expressions, and even her favorite color. Smith said that even though it wasn’t a requirement, she watched “Tangled” at least once a week because she really wanted to succeed at her job.

“I had a whole day of character training. My instructor was a former Fairy Godmother,” Smith said. “I watched scenes over and over again, and she’d quiz me and ask me to mimic the character. It paid off because when a kid is like ‘wheres your kingdom?’ you cant just be like ‘it’s fake kid go away;’ you have to have a response ready that’s sweet, accurate, and not confusing.”

There’s a weird social hierarchy backstage

If Disney World was a high school, the Disney princesses would be the queen bees: They’re beautiful, beloved, and their costumes are way less sweaty than the fur characters. Smith said that there was this odd unwritten social hierarchy backstage and in the utilidors (tunnels that run underneath the Magic Kingdom, where dressing rooms, prep kitchens, and the staff cafeteria, or “Mouseketeria,” is).

“There was a weird attitude on both sides, and people would talk about the princesses like ‘they’re such b**ches,’ like there was a weird stigma that we think we’re better than everyone else,” she said. “People would expect us to act like these characters, but we were just college students, just regular people.”

Guests will trust you with their deepest secrets

Smith was often surprised at the personal secrets guests (even adults) would entrust her with. But she realized over time that she was representative of a special part of their lives, even if the adults knew it was all pretend.

“There was one woman who told me she lost her baby, she had a miscarriage,” Smith said. “She gave me a big hug and told me how excited she was to see me. I mean, she knows I’m not really Rapunzel and yet she felt comfortable telling me this because of an emotional connection to the movie.”

Sometimes it’s hard not to cry on set

Even though hearing adult guests’ personal stories was sometimes sad, nothing could prepare her for the heartbreaking private moments with “Make a Wish” kids with severe illnesses. An interaction with a little blind girl is one of Smith’s favorite moments during her brief stint as Rapunzel.

“When this little girl came in, she was about six or seven, and she was blind, I was thinking, ‘what kind of connection can I possibly make with her?'” Smith said. “I knelt down with her, grabbed her hands and brushed them up and down the long wig and said ‘do you feel my hair? It glows when I sing.’ I brushed her hands over the flower clips in my hair and said ‘Do you feel these? Flynn picked them for me. They’re so beautiful.’ I was verbally explaining the dress and what everything looked like. I glanced up at her parents and they had tears streaming down and the girl had this huge smile on her face.”

NOW WATCH: Disney World Has An Entire Village Dedicated to Frozen

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Disney Princess, also known as the Princess Line, is a media franchise and toy-line owned by The Walt Disney Company. The idea was conceived by Disney Consumer Products chairman Andy Mooney in the late 1990s, with the franchise launching in 2000.

The Disney Princess franchise highlights a group of fictional female protagonists who have appeared in Disney animated films. Each is considered either royal by birth, royal by marriage, or considered a princess because of their heroic feats.

Do keep in mind that there are also many “unofficial” Disney Princesses. These are characters who might be actual princesses (or similarly titled) in films, but who are not included in the official Disney Princess line-up. Think Elsa and Anna from Frozen (more on them later).

Today, official Disney Princesses are found in many different forms of media and merchandise, from sing-a-long movies and TV specials, to dolls and bed sheets and costumes. They also feature prominently at most Disney theme parks.

Think you know your Disney films? Click here to test your knowledge!

Official Disney Princess List

Originally, there were eight official Disney princesses included in the line-up: Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora, Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Pocahontas, and Mulan. Today, there are twelve princesses in total, eleven from Walt Disney Animation Studios, and one from Pixar. And more Disney princesses are expected to be added in the future, especially as Disney continues to buy up other media franchises. Who knows, maybe we’ll see Princess Leia or even a character like Gamora join the line-up in the future?

1. Snow White (Snow White and the Seven Dwarves)
2. Cinderella (Cinderella)
3. Aurora (Sleeping Beauty)
4. Ariel (The Little Mermaid)
5. Belle (Beauty and the Beast)
6. Jasmine (Aladdin)
7. Pocahontas (Pocahontas)
8. Mulan (Mulan)
9. Tiana (The Princess and the Frog)
10. Rapunzel (Tangled)
11. Merida (Brave)
12. Moana (Moana)

Princess Requirements

How to be a disney princess

Disney is pretty vague when it comes to just who can be a Disney Princess. But there do seem to be some general requirements.

  1. The character should have a primary role in a Disney or Pixar film.
  2. The character should be human, or human-like (think Ariel).
  3. The character should not come from a sequel film.
  4. The character should be born or married to royalty, or they should have performed an act of heroism (think Mulan).
  5. The character’s film should be a box office success.

Want more Disney? Click here to find more Disney articles from the Sporcle Blog!

Past Disney Princesses

1. Tinker Bell – she was added to the official Disney Princess line-up early on, only to be replaced by Tiana from The Princess and the Frog. Tinker Bell is now the lead character in the Disney Fairies franchise.

2. Esmeralda – one of the leads from The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Esmeralda was made an official Disney Princess in 2004, only to be removed shortly after. It’s suspected that poor sales relative to others in the franchise were to blame for her removal.

3. Jane Porter – this Tarzan character was planned to be one of the original Disney Princesses, but she was ultimately removed from the line-up. Jane’s signature yellow dress is very similar to that of Belle. It’s believed Jane was scrapped to avoid confusion between the two characters.

Anna and Elsa

Alright, we mentioned Anna and Elsa earlier in this post. Both would seem to fit the criteria, so why is neither an official Disney Princess?

Well, Anna and Elsa were planned to be part of the line-up from the start, but then Frozen became a huge success, not only crushing it at the box office, but becoming somewhat of a cultural phenomena. Ultimately, it was believed that the popularity of Anna and Elsa might overshadow the other twelve princesses. So the two of them pretty much got their own toy-line and franchise, separate to, but heavily affiliated with, the Disney Princess franchise.

Oh My Disney

Oh My Disney Contributor

How to be a disney princess

Do you ever wonder what makes a princess a princess (apart from the whole daughter of a king/queen thing)? We do. These are the really important questions we ask ourselves here at Oh My Disney. Even some of the Disney Princesses themselves sometimes don’t realize they’re princesses for most of their movies. It can be hard to figure out if you’re a princess or not. So, what follows are some foolproof signs that you might, in fact, be a princess. Take note.

If You Have a Pet Tiger

Pet tigers aren’t an everyday thing. If you have one, you’re important, and it logically follows that you’re probably a princess.

If You Were Raised by Three Women in the Woods

Again, this is not a typical living situation. Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather do their best to hide that they’re fairies, but we feel like they most likely slipped a few times in sixteen years. Pay close attention to your caregivers when being raised in the woods, because if this sounds like your life, you’re most likely a princess.

If it’s Totally Normal for You Talk to Animals

Newsflash princesses: Animals don’t talk to us normal people. If they’re talking to you (and are actively helping you achieve your happily ever after), it’s pretty much guaranteed that you have some royal blood.

If When the Prince Sees You, No One Else Matters

Cinderella didn’t start out as a princess, but Prince Charming knows princess material when he sees it.

If Your Presence Makes Everyone a Better Person

How to be a disney princess

By “everyone” we mean the grumpiest of dwarfs, the sweetest of woodland creatures, and even a huntsman whose job was literally to kill you.

If You’re the Only One in Your Village Cool Enough to go to the Enchanted Castle

Belle was always princess material, but it was her sense of adventure and ability to see beyond appearances that set her apart. She knew she wanted more than that provincial life. And she totally got it.

If You Just Saved China

You might be a princess. And you. are. awesome.

If Lanterns Appear in the Sky Every Year on Your Birthday

Lanterns have yet to appear in the sky on our birthdays, and (sadly) we’re not princesses. So if there are lanterns in the sky every year on your birthday, take the hint.

If You’ll Be Shootin’ For Your Own Hand

Not everyone gets to attend a tournament in which various men vie for their hand in marriage via archery. Whether you decide to shoot for you own hand or not, the fact that there’s competition involved raises the probability that you’re a princess.

If You Can Paint with all the Colors of the Wind

How to be a disney princess

You have mad skillz. Also, you’re probably a princess.

If You’ve Kissed a Frog

You either want to be a princess REALLY badly, you are a princess, or you want to open a restaurant. We hope it was worth it. (Totally was for our girl Tiana!)

If You Live with an Evil Queen

Evil Queens are a telltale sign that you’re secretly a princess. Because, well, they’re queens and they’re evil. They walk around talking to mirrors, carrying boxes of hearts, and generally try to ruin your life. We’re not great at math, but if you live with an evil queen, we think it adds up to you being a princess.

If The Entire Kingdom Comes to Hear You Sing

You probably have a great voice, but you’re definitely a princess. Who would turn down an invite to the palace from the King himself? No one. (Except Ariel…what are we gonna do with that girl?)

If There is a Spell on You Involving a Spindle

How to be a disney princess

Firstly, yikes, we’re really sorry about the evil spell thing. Secondly, the only reason a crazy witch would have to arrange such a spell would be because you’re a princess and she’s not happy about it. So this one’s good and bad, really. But it all works out in the end!

If Animals Band Together to Help You

We’re back to the animals thing, but it’s really important. If animals (that we’ve already established are your friends and biggest fans) start making things for you, like a dress for example, you’re special. And princesses are special.

These aren’t the only signs you might be a princess, but they’re super important ones. So, we hope you were paying attention. Think you might be a princess? Good for you. As earlier established we are not princesses, and are therefore jealous of you.

Did you know that there’s an official line-up of Disney Princesses? Yes, fans can call any character they want a Princess, but only Disney itself decides whether or not she earns the title.

How the Title “Disney Princess” Came to Be

The Disney Princess line-up first came to be during the early 2000s, created as a separate franchise from the films in which the Princesses were introduced. Andy Mooney, the brains behind the operation, came up with the idea to appeal to little girls’ desires to live out the princess fantasy. He and Disney started a whole line of Disney Princess merchandise, which has turned into a pop culture phenomenon in the last decade.

As of 2018, there are 11 Disney Princesses in the official line-up. Believe it or not, they get a whole coronation when they are inducted.

Snow White from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella from Cinderella, and Aurora from Sleeping Beauty are the Princesses of classic Disney. Following them are the Princesses of the Disney Renaissance: Ariel from The Little Mermaid, Belle from Beauty and the Beast, Jasmine from Aladdin, Pocahontas from Pocahontas, and Mulan from Mulan. Then there’s Tiana from The Princess and the Frog, Rapunzel from Tangled, and Merida from Brave.

The Criteria

So how does Disney choose which of its heroines belong in the Disney Princess line-up? There is a set of criteria that can be found online, although it doesn’t seem to have been verified:

1. The heroine must have human-like qualities.
2. The heroine must star in a Disney animated film.
3. The heroine must not be introduced through a sequel.
4. The heroine must be a Princess by blood, marry into a royal family, or show exceptional heroism.
5. The heroine’s film must be a commercial success.

So this means Mulan is in good shape since she saved all of China, but Nala from The Lion King will never be inducted because she’s a lion. And as awesome as Kida from Atlantis: The Lost Empire is, she doesn’t grace the list because her film was a box office failure. So these criteria mostly make sense. Yet there are still Disney fans who debate about what makes a Disney Princess or not.

What Really Makes a Disney Princess?

The question is, if Disney has ever used criteria like this as guidelines for choosing Princess candidates, does the company really care about them? Tinkerbell, who was neither royal nor particularly heroic in Peter Pan (although she did save Peter’s life) used to have Disney Princess status until she was removed from the line-up and given her own book and movie series.

While she plays a significant role in Aladdin, Jasmine is more of a supporting character than a main one. Then there’s Merida, who has a spot on the list even though she’s a Disney Pixar character rather than Disney Animation Studios.

Yet supporting characters like Meg from Hercules, Jane Porter from Tarzan, and Esmeralda from The Hunchback of Notre Dame remain excluded from the list. One would also think Anna and Elsa, who captured the hearts of children everywhere, would make the spot without a problem. Yet four years later, they still haven’t earned their titles.

The Princess Mythology

In Moana, Maui says, “If you wear a dress and you have an animal side kick, then you’re a princess.” Blogger Jon Negroni noticed this line and suggested that this was Disney’s way of trying to put the Disney Princess issue to rest. After all, as daughter of the village chief, Moana doesn’t consider herself a princess. But because Disney owns the Princesses, the company can do whatever it likes.

Supposedly Mooney called the Princesses and the worlds they originated from part of “the Princess mythology.” This was his reasoning for removing Tinkerbell from the line-up, having decided she just didn’t fit.

So perhaps what matters to Disney is not a bunch of criteria in a list, but instead whatever characteristics they think will be marketable to their audience. As great as characters like Esmeralda and Meg may be, it’s the shimmery dresses, quests for love and adventure, and sense of magic that spark a child’s imagination.

How to be a disney princess

This week, I’m excited to present an interview with my longtime friend and former casting associate Jamie Sparer Roberts. She has spent over 20 years in the casting community. After starting at Disney as a casting executive in features, she began her current role as head of the Walt Disney Animation Studios casting department, where she has been for the last 10 years. During her tenure there, she has cast such iconic films as “Tangled,” “Frozen,” “Wreck-It Ralph,” “Moana,” “Zootopia,” and the upcoming “Ralph Breaks the Internet” and “Frozen 2.” She has won the coveted Casting Society of America’s Artios Award for outstanding achievement in animation three times—plus, Elle magazine named her one of the most powerful women in entertainment in 2014.

In the 10 years you’ve been doing animation casting, how have things changed?
When I started in animation, I really only had live-action experience. I continue to run my auditions the same way that I did prior to joining the animated world. The real changes have come with the ability to receive instant recorded auditions from anywhere in the world, creating an endless reach to talent everywhere. For myself, the process of animation casting came in the form of exercising muscles that I didn’t know I had. My imagination and my ability to really “listen” to a performance, as well as learning to rely on my skill to find truth in an actor’s voice, has become crucial to my process.

When does casting get involved in a project?
At Disney, casting gets involved in projects when they are very early in development. Historically, we cast the project three times. The first time is in the form of a table read prior to the greenlight. The second time is during the storyboarding process, where actors’ voices are used for internal development of the film prior to production. Finally, we cast the actual voices for the production dialogue; these are the actors who end up in the theatrical release. Many times, the final cast includes actors from the original table read as well as “scratch” development dialogue. Typically, all I ever see before casting is a rough sketch of the character. Animation usually doesn’t take place until after the actor signs on and records. Many times, the artists use video of the actors as reference for bringing the character to life.

What is auditioning for you like?
In order to protect the creative process at the studio, we release very little information about the projects and characters to anyone outside of the company. Occasionally, the director will share rough sketches with the actor at the live audition. In fact, the sides that we use are not usually made up of material that is in the actual film. For example, most of my “Frozen 2” audition material for new roles has been made up of scenes pulled from various existing stage plays that echo the emotion of our film.

How can an actor prep for a character if they aren’t given much information about it?
When auditioning for a Disney animated feature, an actor must come prepared to use their imagination and, in some instances, improvise. Our auditions are not as much about the words on the page as they are about finding the essence of a character in the actor’s interpreted performance mixed with the sound of their voice.

Other than the obvious, what are some differences between casting and acting for an animated project vs. live-action?
Disney animation prides itself on the ability to give audiences characters that [they] can relate to. We’ve found that hiring actors whose performances are grounded and not over-the-top or cartoony helps us move toward the type of deeper storytelling that we are known for.

What happens when you hire a child actor for an animated project and their voice changes while working?
Every case is different, and it really has a lot to do with the age of the character as well as the sound of the other actors that will be featured in the scenes with the young character. Sometimes, we cast actors that are older whose voices have probably settled. Other times, we are careful to wait as long as possible to cast a role with the actor whose voice will be used in the final version of the film, using temporary dialogue as a place holder.

What kind of actors are you looking for?
Actors that I have found to have the most skill in the recording booth are those who have theater, improv, and sketch comedy training and experience. We are looking for actors with real acting chops who are able to transmit emotion through voice only, think on their feet, and really come ready to dig in and collaborate.

What would surprise people most about casting animation?
Most people think that animation casting is about finding people who can “put on” voices. I cannot speak for other studios because I have only worked in animation at Disney, but I almost never hire someone to do a voice that is not their own or some slight variation thereof.

Ready to get to work? Check out Backstage’s voiceover audition listings!