Whether it’s Pocahontas, Moana, Tiana or King T’Challa, ethnic Disney characters have enriched Disney movies for decades. So in this article, I’m going to share my favorite POC Disney characters that I think have become downright legendary!
Ethnic Disney Princesses
Loyal, brave and true, Mulan is first up in our list of ethnic Disney princesses! This film and the titular character is based off of a several hundred year old Chinese legend that tells the story of a young woman who takes the place of her father in the army (and helps to save her country)!
While not much is known about the truth of Mulan’s original Chinese story she is certainly an inspiration for many, and as of now, she is currently the only Asian Disney princess to appear in any animated and live action projects! Mulan can be seen in the Disneyland resort in the Royal Hall!
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Tiana is without a doubt one of the most legendary Disney princesses for people from all walks of life, and her film Princess and the Frog has become a staple in the lives of ethnic children since its release in late 2009! In the film, Tiana lives in the Louisiana bayou (more specifically, New Orleans) where she owns a restaurant and creates family recipes to share with the people around her!
She also happens to be the first and only black animated Disney princess, as well as the only dark skinned Disney princess (as of now, at least) that can be found in the Disney parks (she can usually be found on the river boat during its tours in Disneyland)!
Tiana is scheduled to be featured in her own ride in both Disneyland and Walt Disney World very soon (Tiana’s Bayou Adventure)! This will make Tiana the first ethnic Disney princess to have a ride themed in the style of her film! This is way overdue (c’mon Disney), but awesome nonetheless.
Pocahontas is one of my absolute favorite Disney princesses! She is a young, Native American woman who lives off the land and truly appreciates the gifts that earth has given her. Admittedly, her character comes from a very real life story that is drastically different from what the animated film portrays.
With that said, Pocahontas is the only Native American Disney princess from the mainland United States featured both in a standalone film and as a meet and greet in the Disney parks! As someone who has life history with several of the Native American tribes in the United States, the character of Pocahontas has grown to mean quite a lot to me!
Moana, the titular character of her very own 2016 film, is Disney’s first and currently only Polynesian princess! Moana is the daughter of a chief of a Polynesian tribe with an unknown name, and she is tasked with saving not only the island that her tribe lives on, but the ocean as a whole! The film explores her close connection with her island and the ocean, and goes reasonably into depth on the culture of her people!
Moana is available for meet and greets in the Disney parks, although she seems to be a seasonal character and her appearances may vary!
Jasmine is our fifth and final current ethnic character in the Disney princess category! Not much is known about which specific country her character is from, although we can reasonably assume that her ethnicity is more than likely Arabic or Indian based off of the information found in her film!
Princess Jasmine has undergone quite a few changes in her marketing and costuming over the years, however she is most definitely still an icon for children of west Asian descent! Jasmine can typically be found doing meet and greets in the Disney parks alongside Aladdin!
Ariel (2023 version)
You have more than likely heard the news by now, and we’ve even mentioned it a couple of times already in this article! Halle Berry, a dark skinned actress, is portraying Ariel in the live action adaptation of The Little Mermaid set to hit theaters in mid 2023! Her portrayal of the character has been met with mixed reviews, mostly due to bigots that are unhappy a white fictional character will be portrayed by a black actress.
This darker skinned portrayal of the character will be available for meet and Greets in both Disneyland and Walt Disney World according to Disney casting calls, which is undoubtedly going to make waves for black children visiting the parks!
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Ethnic Disney Characters in Star Wars
Let’s begin with the character of Finn, which sadly is both a step forwards AND a step backwards in terms of black representation in Star Wars as a whole.
Now Finn was a stormtrooper when we first encountered his character on the big screen in the beginning of episode XII, but later went against the First Order and helped to save the galaxy on more than one occasion! Finn is portrayed by none other than the amazing John Boyega, and is one of the dark skinned characters with the most screen time across the franchise!
Unfortunately, Disney did a poor job handling Finn’s character arc in his trilogy of films, and as a result, the company understandably got called out by Boyega himself. Boyega’s beef was that Disney wanted praise for introducing a black character into their mega franchise, only to do absolutely nothing with them afterwards. And you know what—he’s 100% correct (unless you feel screaming “Rey!” for three movies is impressive).
Finn had potential to be an awesome Star Wars character, but Disney fumbled the ball and did next to nothing with him in the two sequels that followed “The Force Awakens.”
You may be thinking to yourself “this character is yellow, how could she be ethnic?“ However, while this character herself doesn’t have a human ethnicity, the actress who portrays her is a wonderful example for young black children!
Maz Kanata is portrayed by none other than Lupita Nyong’o, who is the only person to have two separate characters in two different franchises on this list! She comes from Kenyan – Mexican descent, and Lupita is truly a powerhouse of an actress! She has been an activist for not only people of color, but women both in minority groups and as a whole! Unfortunately, neither of her characters are available for meet and greets in the Disney parks!
You either love him or you hate him, but no matter what way you look at it, Lando is a necessary character in the Star Wars universe! He is portrayed by Billy Dee Williams in every main trilogy portrayal of the character!
Williams has received many awards for his portrayals of minority characters, and Lando is certainly no exception! Unfortunately, like our other Star Wars characters featured in this list, Lando is currently not available for meet and greets in any of the Disney parks.
Jannah is the final minority character in our Star Wars portion of this list, but she is my favorite out of the four characters from everyone’s favorite galaxy! She has a very similar backstory to the aforementioned Finn, being a former ‘stormtrooper turned good’ and assisting in the saving of the galaxy!
Jannah is portrayed by Naomi Ackie and although she plays a pivotal role in the tail end of The final trilogy, her character is not available for meet and greets on any Disney property!
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POC Disney Characters in Marvel Movies
Let’s begin with a character that really changed the game when he was introduced into he Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2016: King T’Challa!
To kickstart this category, we have the legendary King T’Challa, portrayed by the late Chadwick Boseman! T’Challa was the first Black Panther to make an appearance in the MCU, and is a character of African origin, more specifically from the fictional nation of Wakanda!
T’Challa made waves in the lives of people of color from the moment he stepped foot in the MCU, and the character has continued the legacy even after the untimely passing of Chadwick Boseman due to cancer. T’Challa is available for meet and greets in avengers campus in DCA, located in Anaheim, California!
If you are a fan of the Thor films, you will undoubtedly be familiar with the character of Valkyrie! In the films, we learn that Valkyrie is the last remaining member of Odin’s all female army with the same name, and she is now the king of New Asgard!
While we don’t know much about the ethnicity of her character in the films, Valkyrie is portrayed by Tessa Thompson, who is a spokesperson for not only ethnic individuals but also members of the LGBT community and other minority groups! Unfortunately Valkyrie is not available for meet and greets on any Disney properties.
If you have watched Agents of SHIELD you are surely familiar with the character of Melinda May! Melinda is of Asian ethnicity, although not much is known about the specifics of where her character is from!
She is a master of several different Asian fighting techniques, and is frequently known as “the cavalry“ due to her character’s ability to fight and keep members of her team safe! Melinda is played by none other than Ming-Na Wen, who also voices Mulan and portrays Fennec Shand in the Star Wars franchise, Mandalorian!
Unfortunately, Melinda May is not available to meet in the Disney parks.
Shuri is the little sister of the aforementioned Black Panther, T’Challa, and has now taken over the mantle (after the passing of both Chadwick Boseman and the character of T’Challa). Her character is a super genius who has assisted in saving the world on multiple occasions, and is now tasked with protecting the Vibranium that can be found in Wakanda!
The character is portrayed by Letitia Wright, who is a Guyanese actress, and she is available for meet and greets in avengers campus in DCA, located in Anaheim, California! In fact, you can see my meet and greet with Shuri by checking out my Disneyland Trip Report!
Shang-Chi is a character of Asian descent who has very rapidly become a major part of the Marvel cinematic universe! While the character has only appeared in one film at the time of this article, that film is rooted very deep in the culture of the character and is a must watch.
Our beloved Sam Wilson started out his time in the MCU with the alias of Falcon, However after the events of Avengers Endgame, he was gifted the shield of Captain America—and thus the mantle of Captain America!
Sam is officially the first dark skinned Captain America in the MCU, with his first solo film premiering in May of 2024! Sam is portrayed by Anthony Mackie, and his character is available for meet and greets in avengers campus in DCA, located in Anaheim, California!
Echo is a fairly recent addition to the Marvel cinematic universe, with her character being introduced at the tail end of 2021 in the show Hawkeye! Her character is stated as being Native American (Cherokee) in the comics, and this is alluded to in the television series as well!
Echo is slated to get her own Disney+ series, as well. The character is portrayed by Alaqua Cox.
This article was written by Peyton and edited by Michael.
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