The Animator Of Your Fave Disney Princesses Has A Lot To Say About Those Reimaginings
It seems like the Internet produces a new Disney reimagining on a daily basis. Just this summer alone, we’ve seen Disney princess with fins, short hair, realistic hair, without makeup and so on and so forth. So how does the man who brought so many of our favorite Disney princesses feel about this popular trend?
Mark Henn, an animator at Walt Disney Animation Studios, is responsible for some of the studio’s most iconic princesses—including Jasmine (Aladdin), Belle (Beauty and the Beast), Ariel (The Little Mermaid), Mulan (Mulan), Tiana (The Princess & The Frog) and Anna (Frozen). And he think it’s really “neat” that young artists are making these iconic princesses their own.
“I take it as a positive thing. I think it’s kind of neat,” Henn told MTV News at Disney’s D23 Expo. “What I think about is the fact that people love these characters so much that they’re willing to have fun with them. To me, it’s about the fact that they like these characters. As an animator, that’s what we’re always hoping for. We create characters that we hope our audience identifies with and enjoys spending time in a movie theater with. And the life that goes on after that, it’s an unwritten chapter until it happens.”
“On the other hand,” Henn continued, “Sometimes I think some people have way too much time on their hands [laughs].” Perhaps he was referring to Cosmopolitan’s “If Disney Couples Starred in Fifty Shades of Grey. (We’re still personally scarred by it, tbh.)
“But generally, I’m flattered by it,” Henn said. “I think it’s fun.”
We’re in the middle of a Disney princess renaissance in pop culture. Our favorite princesses are constantly being reimagined and rebooted for the big screen (see: Disney’s live action Beauty and the Beast). According to Henn, it’s because the Disney heroines of today are no longer the victims they once were.
“The stories are much more involved today, and I think that requires more depth and a little more from the character that’s driving the story,” the animator said. “In the past, the leading ladies were a little more like victims—things happened to them and they would just go, ’Woe is me.’ That was just the style. It was a reflection of the time, and that’s OK.”
“Our leading ladies today tend to reflect more of their time, where you have more complicated stories and they’re more actively involved in their lives,” he added. “They’re making decisions that propel the stories and throw them into situations or consequences of those decisions.”
The Disney princesses of today have interests, opinions and most importantly, flaws—all of which Henn is proud to help bring to life for young girls.
“People always use the phrase, ’They’re strong women.’ And they are,” Henn said. “That’s because they have their own minds and they have to live with the consequences of their decisions—good or bad.”