Disney and Elle are honouring 14 real-life heroes and heroines for embodying courage the kindness of Disney Princesses as they inspire people of all ages around the world.
Each month, Disney and Elle will announce four honourees with the September Issue of the magazine recognizing the first four “Modern Heroines”: Eva Longoria, Misty Copeland, Amanda Nguyen, and Padma Lakshmi. Announced during Disney’s inaugural World Princess Week aimed at celebrating courage and kindness around the globe, each subsequent issue will feature more stars aligned with the Disney characters whose traits they mirror through both personal and professional achievements.
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Dubbed “The Generous Multihyphenate”, Longoria identifies with “Aladdin”‘s Jasmine, the first Disney Princess of colour. “She had dark hair and dark skin. I was like, ‘She looks like me!’” Longoria says, but it’s her generous inner spirit she connects to the most. “Career-wise, directing, producing, and acting, that’s what I do, but who I am is more important. Affordable housing and health care, access to quality education — those things are a little more important than who’s watching my TV show.”
For rising ballet star Misty Copeland, it’s all about Belle from “Beauty And The Beast” and the identity of “The Graceful Dancer”. “I loved the way she would move throughout the town, with such poise and grace, even though she wasn’t this wealthy, elite princess,” she says. “I also loved ‘The Little Mermaid’. Ariel and Belle were my two favourites — I was obsessed with them.”
Mulan’s warrior spirit lives in Amanda Nguyen, “The Brave Justice-Seeker”. After being raped in college, Nguyen started the organization Rise, which put together the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights, designed to make the reporting process more streamlined. For Nguyen, it is the idea that bravery doesn’t have to stick to only a masculine presentation when it comes to Disney’s heroines and “that you can be brave while being vulnerable, that courage doesn’t mean lack of fear.” She adds: “I think Disney princesses and queens are such feminists.”
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Finally, “The Tenacious Foodie” Padma Lakshmi is one of the initial Modern Heroines, represented by Tiana in “The Princess And The Frog”. “We love Tiana because she’s very steadfast and doesn’t expect an easy way out,” Lakshmi says, noted for bringing families and cultures together over food. “A lot of success in life comes from talent, but more sustained success comes from diligence and working hard and understanding that there’s no one set, fixed goal you’ll arrive at where you’ve ‘made it.’ I think that is truly a fairy tale.”
The September 2021 edition of Elle is on newsstands on Aug. 31.