In a recent Insider interview with former Disney performers, several entertainers who played Disney princesses spoke up about the emotional toll that auditions involved. Contenders’ appearances are scrutinized intensely while casting directors determine whether or not their faces suit princesses in the casting call — but Helen Jane Planchet, a former Disney equity performer who played Disney’s Latina princess Elena of Avalor, has also shed some light on the extra challenges faced by a woman of color while auditioning with Disney.
Helen Jane Planchet was a member of the American Guild of Variety Artists union, so she was allowed to skip the long lines of competitors and be one of the first people to have a Disney audition in front of casting directors — but even with that casting call advantage, Planchet says that her race caused her to be “passed over for pretty much every audition”.
She auditioned around 60 times and “was rejected a bajillion times” before getting cast in a role by Disney; even then, once she was a Disney performer, Planchet had to watch white women take roles like Pocahontas that she could have played more accurately.
“In 2010 there was no Moana, there was no Elena of Avalor, there was no Mirabel from ‘Encanto,'” Planchet told Insider. “So, because I’m a person of color, I got passed over for pretty much every audition. They spent a lot of time casting white women.”
“I guess I regret letting it wear me down the way it did, because I started to get very upset that I knew I was talented enough for some of these jobs,” she also added. “And to see [those Disney character roles] go to white women, who already have so many opportunities, it started to break down my confidence and make me really upset,” Planchet remembered in the interview.
Many Disney performers have mentioned the emotional and mental damage caused by Disney auditions, since the auditions for face characters (such as Disney princess auditions) focus heavily on the appearance of people and not the performer’s individual passion for the role or his or her talent. With far less Disney princess roles or face character roles for people of color, the disparities in auditions are heightened even further.