A first look at updated character models for a revival of Disney Channel animated series The Proud Family hint some years have passed since audiences last saw Penny Proud and her sometimes embarrassing but always loving family, who return with new episodes to stream on Disney+. The revival — first revealed in August by Oscar Proud voice actor Tommy Davidson, who reprises his role as the Proud family patriarch — will be formally announced "really soon," says series creator and writer-director Bruce W. Smith, whose latest directorial effort, Hair Love, was awarded the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film at the 92nd Academy Awards.
"We haven’t officially announced it. It’s probably the worst-kept secret in Hollywood right now," Smith told Double Toasted. "The announcement is coming really soon, so even though I said it, I really didn’t say it. But we are anticipating doing some really fun stuff with what we’re trying to do this time around."
Like the original iteration of the series — one of very few animated series starring an African-American family when it debuted in 2001 — the revival aims to be "as authentic and as real as possible," Smith said. "That's what we're after."
Smith accidentally revealed a look at the new character models depicting Penny (voice of Kyla Pratt) and parents Oscar (Davidson) and Trudy (voice of Paula Jai Parker) in familiar outfits. Other character models appear to reveal Penny's 1-year-old twin siblings BeBe and CeCe (voice of Tara Strong) have aged: BeBe's afro can be seen behind Smith, next to a model sheet showing CeCe still dressed in pink but now with a full head of hair.
On Hair Love — telling the story of an African-American father who does his daughter's hair for the first time — Smith wanted to be "as sincere as possible," matching efforts of The Proud Family.
"On The Proud Family, I’ve got Ralph Farquhar, who heads up the writing, who is keeping the characters and the stories as pure as possible," added Smith of Farquhar, whose credits include Married with Children, Moesha and The Parkers. "He brings writers along of color, who can help reinforce the stories."
Smith added he is "so proud" of The Proud Family writers' room.
"We’ve got people of color all the way across the board that are crafting these stories, so you have to be able to do that, bringing people in. And also giving people breaks. People who haven’t done this before that are artists of color," he said. "'Okay, listen, I’m going to give you more responsibility, because I need your voice on this movie.' So here’s this dude or this woman who’s never directed before, who’s never directed before, or never really had a major part on a movie or TV show before, now you’re giving them that break, so they have to step up and be a part of it in a major way that they haven’t really been asked to before."0comments
Smith continued, "You’ve got to be able to craft and find these people and really mold and shape these people so the voice becomes that much more authentic and pure as you push through the process, that’s the only way to make it happen. That’s what I learned from working on Bébé's Kids, I knew that if I’m going to continue to do Black projects — or try to do Black projects — I need to bring more Black folk with me."
Disney has not yet announced a release date for new episodes of The Proud Family. The original series is now available for streaming on Disney+.
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