The new CreativeSoul line of Disney Princess-inspired dolls reimagines the classic heroines with an Afrocentric twist meant to uplift and inspire youth of color.
According to the Disney Parks Blog, CreativeSoul Photography is a Black-owned art studio owned by Regis and Kahran Bethencourt, husband and wife creators who use a diverse lens to “celebrate youth of color in artistic new ways” and “showcase the beauty and strength of diversity” through the use of Afrocentric design elements within their images. In fact, their collaboration with Disney depicts its princess characters with African-inspired hairstyles, hair textures, and costume elements for a diverse reimagining of characters such as Tiana, Snow White, Cinderella, and Rapunzel.
The collaborative collection continues Disney’s motivation to create more inclusive representation within its film and merchandise lines for children of all backgrounds, focusing on increased diversity for Disney fans from ethnic minority groups who have previously been underrepresented in Disney media, especially in respectful and positive ways.
For example, Disney made history with its race-blind casting for Frozen! Live at the Hyperion, and later in Frozen: the Broadway Musical, opening up access to lead roles for originally white characters that otherwise would have been unavailable to performers of color. Moreover, the Walt Disney Company has continued this trend by casting Hawaiian-born Auli’i Cravalho (the voice of Moana) as Ariel in The Little Mermaid: Live!, Filipino singer-songwriter H.E.R. as Belle in its recent Beauty and the Beast Anniversary television program, and of course, Halle Bailey in the role of Ariel for its upcoming 2023 live-action Little Mermaid movie.
The Bethencourts shared that to create the special edition collector’s dolls, based on a CreativeSoul photography series that casts young Black girls as Disney Princesses, they selected natural hairstyles and textures familiar in Black communities worldwide, as well as fabrics, accessories, and embellishments which reflected African styles. The dresses feature highly detailed beaded accents and use each Princess’ color scheme and original design in tribute to their classic films.
Of course, the CreativeSoul collaboration has launched on shopDisney, where the 11-inch dolls retail for $59.99 a piece but will also be available to Guests at select locations around Walt Disney World and the Disneyland Resort. Furthermore, the couple traveled all the way from Atlanta, Georgia, to put their African-inspired takes on classic Disney heroines on display during EPCOT’s International Festival of the Arts.
In addition to purchasing the CreativeSoul Doll Collection during a signing with Regis and Kahran, Guests can also take home copies of the five-image series, which inspired the dolls, and two books for a limited time. What’s more, an exhibit within the Art of Disney and the America Pavilion will showcase CreativeSoul’s life-sized versions of the dresses and natural wigs worn by the model for each doll.
CreativeSoul Photography will greet Guests at the Walt Disney World Resort from February 3 to February 5, 2023. As a reminder, EPCOT still requires valid theme park admission and same-day reservation to enter the International Festival of the Arts.