Business's casting move to show everyone 'can be princesses too'

24-year-old Rosy May dressed up as Belle outside

Choreographer Rosy May plays traditionally white princesses within Lucy's Princess Parties - Credit: Charlotte Bond

A Suffolk business is working to challenge the perception that Disney princess roles traditionally played by white people cannot also be played by people of colour. 

Lucy’s Princess Parties, run by Lucy Roper, provides parties and princess themed activities for children in Suffolk, North Essex and surrounding areas.

The website has the option to choose a person of colour to play a particular princess. 

Rosy May, a choreographer from Ipswich, is one of the performers, taking on the roles of Ariel, Cinderella and Belle.  

Rosy sat on the floor with her dress billowing around her

Rosy dressed up as Belle - Credit: Charlotte Bond

The 24-year-old said it is part of a move to employ transcendent casting, whereby actors of colour can play traditionally white characters to level out the playing field for those of ethnic minority backgrounds. 

She says it is important for children of different backgrounds to see themselves within the characters they look up to. 

Rosy said: “I think it’s important for brown people because we’re subconsciously fed a narrative that we’re not good enough, not beautiful, not stereotypical princesses.  

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“But by me just being there we’re showing that people of colour can be princesses too without having a big discussion about it.” 

Rosy dressed as Belle with her hands clasped together

Rosy being able to play traditionally white characters is an example of transcendent casting - Credit: Charlotte Bond

But Rosy said politics surrounding princessing can be much more complicated – with controversy arising when lighter skinned actors play a fully black princess, for example in the case of Princess Tiana. 

She said: “I wasn’t a child when Tiana, the first black princess, came. It was so great for me and I felt represented and it was truly an emotional experience. 

“For the first year of working at Lucy’s Princess Parties I portrayed that character. But then after a while, I realised it wasn’t the done thing for someone of my complexion to be playing her.   

Rosy in her Belle costume walking down the stairs

The 24-year-old says she feels empowered to bring representation to children in Suffolk - Credit: Charlotte Bond

“At first, I thought that wasn’t fair because I’ve got brown skin – I'm from British and Jamaican heritage. She’s my princess, she’s the one I relate to the most.  

“But the more I researched around the subject I came to the understanding that it’s probably best for someone who is darker skinned to play that character."   

Despite this, Rosy continues to play a host of other princesses and says that she feel empowered to bring this diversity to children across the county. 

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