(As if we didn’t need a reminder.)
Yesterday, D23 Expo brought together one of the most powerful groups of heroes on one stage. No, we’re not talking about Marvel’s Avengers (though that did also happen); we’re referring to the Disney Princesses—more specifically, the actresses who have portrayed these empowered and empowering leading ladies over the years.
As part of the Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2 presentation—in which it was revealed that Vanellope will come face-to-face with said Disney royalty after entering the worldwide web—John Lasseter welcomed to the stage Jodi Benson (voice of Ariel), Paige O’Hara (voice of Belle), Linda Larkin (voice of Jasmine), Irene Bedard (voice of Pocahontas), Anika Noni Rose (voice of Tiana), Mandy Moore (voice of Rapunzel), Auli’i Cravalho (voice of Moana), and Kelly Macdonald (voice of Merida).
And the royal treatment continued today for fans, with the Power of Princess panel. Jodi, Paige, Anika, and Auli’i returned to the stage for a round of nostalgia, inspiration, and (of course) magic. Here are our top favorite quotes that may or may not have had us cheering and weeping all at once.
1. “They wanted Belle to be a bit older and more mature. And I am older and more mature than Jodi.” –Paige reminiscing about how she and Jodi were both considered for the role of Belle in Beauty and the Beast. Luckily, we all know Jodi would become part of another world.
2. “I couldn’t tell anyone I was cast [as Ariel]. I had to keep it a secret for months!” –Jodi, explaining how voice acting wasn’t as respectable a career in the late 1980s as it is now.
3. “I was weeping in Paris backstage. I didn’t realize how much she’d look like me.” –Anika, remembering the very first time she saw animation of her character Tiana, from The Princess and the Frog.
4. “I’m only 16! And to know that I’m inspiring people at this age? It’s absolutely amazing. It’s everything.” –Auli’i, reacting to the universal love fans have for her and her character Moana. (We’re one of those people obsessed with/inspired by her.)
5. “You can be almost there and be sad about it, or you can be almost there and find the joy in the journey, and how far you have gone.” –Anika, commenting on what makes Tiana’s story so inspiring. RE: WEEPING.
6. “That was like a master class in conquering your fears.” –Paige speaking for all of us after Anika’s incredible advice.
7. “I laughed and thought they were kidding.” –Paige, recalling how she reacted when Disney asked her to reprise her role in Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2.
8. “We reach children on the level that they speak. We reach them in their hearts.” –Anika just doling out another gold soundbite like it’s her job. Wait…
9. “She was the first in many ways. Belle was one of the first to really empower women. She’s not looking for a man. She’s looking for adventure, for fulfillment, for life.” –Paige on the importance of Belle’s character.
10. “She has a dream to go outside the box, to go beyond and pursue her dream at all costs. You have to go outside the box like Ariel.” –Jodi on how Ariel inspires fans to swim after their dreams.
11. “Selfie time!” –Anika ending the panel the only way we millennials know how … with a giant selfie with the audience.
We were also treated to live performances from each real-life princess. LIVE, you guys. Jodi sang the reprise from “Part of Your World”; Paige enchanted with a little bit of “Belle”—and even asked the fans to join in; Anika brought the house down with “Down in New Orleans”; and Auli’i ended on a high note with part of “How Far I’ll Go.” It was one of the best moments of our lives.
Keep checking Oh My Disney for more up-to-date news from D23 Expo!