Modern heroines

If hearing the words “Disney Princess” is reminiscent of images of girls in trouble waiting for their charming prince, you are missing Cinderella’s determination to overcome the adversity she faces, despite her circumstances – or Moana’s courageous quest to save her home. her people from an environmental disaster. As part of Disney’s Ultimate Princess Celebration, ELLE honors real-life characters and heroines who embody the spirit of Disney’s beloved princesses, who continue to inspire people around the world, regardless of age.


Jennifer Lee

Dress, $ 2,650, belt, $ 1,090, Alexander McQueen. Earrings, ring, Fernando Jorge. Ring, carbon and hyde. Stylist’s own bracelet. Sandals, by Giuseppe Zanotti, $ 1,396.

Celeste Sloman

When Jennifer Lee was young, she watched Cinderella he helped her cope with the severe harassment she had endured. Years later, she managed to offer a new generation of children a similar sense of hope as the writer frozen, which she directed with Chris Buck. “Cinderella he gave me something to hold on to, ”she says. “When we started hearing about what Frozen meant for people and how it affected their lives, I told because Cinderella. It means a lot to be a part of something that can be there for people if they need it and to talk about real emotions. ”

Lee, chief creative officer of Walt Disney Animation Studios, joined Disney for what was originally a short concert on the writing team for Wreck-It Ralph. Since then, the Oscar winner has written and directed Frozen 2 and executive producer Heaven and the last dragon and Charm. “The animation is so collaborative. I can look at each frame and know the layers needed to get there and the number of people who were part of each idea, ”says Lee. After a few years in business, she is still “just as excited about the process and excited to be a part of it.” “Adrien Gaffney.”


Naomi Osaka

Naomi Osaka and Josie Tota

Top, skirt, Louis Vuitton.

Geneba Aduayom

“Being authentic to myself is the value I strive for the most,” says Naomi Osaka. “I never wanted to feel compelled to conform to what other people think I should be.” This feeling was true during the 2020 U.S. Open, when the 23-year-old tennis champion wore masks imprinted with the names of victims of police brutality, and was confirmed very recently when she withdrew from this year’s Open. France and Wimbledon to prioritize their mental health.

Osaka stays true to its values ​​even off the court. This month, she launched Kinlò, a unisex skincare brand that “fills the gap in the need for skin care and sun care for melanized skin,” she says. And in May, she expanded Play Academy, her initiative to increase girls’ participation in sports, which now has a presence in Japan, where she was born; Los Angeles, where he currently lives; and Haiti, where her father is from. While Osaka admits that she will always love Ariel – “my sister Marie and I watched Little Mermaid growing up millions of times “- the princess with whom he is most associated today is Mulan,” because she saved people instead of waiting to be saved. ” “Melissa Giannini.”

Stylized by Carla Welch; hair by Marty Harper of The Wall Group; makeup from Autumn Moultrie in The Wall Group; produced by Crawford Productions.


Josie Toth

Naomi Osaka and Josie Tota

Shirt, $ 1450, pants, $ 1450, boots, $ 1490, Fendi. Chanel rings, fine jewelry, from $ 3550.

Celeste Sloman

As a child star, Josie Tota stole scenes. But now, as a 20-year-old woman, she is setting her own path and leading Hollywood to a more inclusive future. After memorable inversions Rejoicing and Other people, Totah landed a starring role in Peacock’s Saved by the Bell. The actress, who revealed her experience as a transsexual girl in a 2018 essay, plays a trans character in the show and is also a series producer. “Being a producer allowed me to tell the most authentic story possible about my character – I felt that without this title I wouldn’t be able to do it,” she says.

Born in August 2001 to parents of Palestinian and Lebanese descent, Totah remembers being bombarded with negative stereotypes about Arabs and people in the Middle East as he grew up. She hasn’t seen “careful, accurate representations of Arab people just be what they are, what normal people are,” she said until she watched the Disney movie. Aladdin. “To see myself [in Jasmine]who has a little darker hair, a little more melanin, was amazing and made me feel proud. She is the Queen of the Middle East. ” “Adrien Gaffney.”

Stylized by Sarah Zendehas; hair by Ro Morgan for Bumble & Bumble; makeup by Yinna Wang for Dior; scenography by DJ Repoman; produced by Fiona Lennon.


Eva Longoria

Eva Longoria


Celeste Sloman

“People think I’m an actor who’s become a producer / director, but I’ve always been a producer / director who’s passionate about acting,” says Eva Longoria. Soon this ambiguity will disappear with the release of Flamin ‘Hot, Searchlight Pictures’ biographical film about Frito-Lay CEO Richard Montañes and the first feature film director in Longoria. Longoria will then produce, direct and star in a comedy directed by Kerry Washington. 24-7 and an action comedy film Spa day.

Throughout her career, Longoria has been active in advocating for immigration and Latin American causes. Last winter, she helped deliver food and water during the catastrophic winter storm in Texas. “In my career, directing, production and acting, I do that, but who I am is more important,” she says. “Affordable housing and health care, access to quality education – these things are a little more important than who watches my TV show.” But in terms of the feeling of being seen on screen, Longoria says in the film Aladdin it was a revelation. “I loved Jasmine,” she says of the lively character, who was also Disney’s first color princess. “She had dark hair and dark skin. I was like, “She looks like me!”

Stylized by Sarah Schusheim; hair from Amaran Asylum in Illumemanagement; makeup by Elan Bongiorno at Rouge Artists; produced by Aaron Zumback at Camp Productions.

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Misty Copeland

Misty Copeland stands on a pointe on a piano in a spacious studio, dressed in pink, blue and gray dress with floral details


Celeste Sloman

Misty Copeland returns to the studio. After more than a year of distance learning, the director of the American Ballet Theater – and perhaps the biggest name in American dance – is working hard on Flower, a short film about dancing and a “love letter” to Oakland, California, which examines the city’s history of red lines and gentrification. “It was a beautiful transition process for me,” said Armani The crossroads ambassador pause in her grueling schedule.

Copeland, who became part of the Disney family when she starred in the film in 2018 The Nutcracker and the Four Kingdoms, says that Disney movies were her first introduction to dance as a child. In conversation (and during performance) creative power embodies the grace and warmth of FrozenElsa, but growing up, Copeland felt a strong connection with Bell Beauty and the Beast. “I liked the way she moved around the city, with such balance and grace, even though she wasn’t that rich, elite princess,” she says. “I loved it too Little Mermaid. Ariel and Bell were my two favorites – I was obsessed with them. – AG

Stylized by Sarah Zendehas; hair by Jeff Francis for Living Proof; makeup by Victor Henao at B&A; produced by Fiona Lennon.


Amanda Nguyen

Amanda Nguyen leans on a rock clad in white ao da


Celeste Sloman

Amanda Nguyen has just passed the law. Her thirty-seventh, actually. After being raped in college, Nguyen launched Rise, which drafted the Sexual Violence Survivors’ Rights Act to make the reporting process more streamlined. It has been adopted at the federal level in 30 states, as well as in Washington, DC. “It’s entirely possible to make a difference,” she said.

This year, in the face of an epidemic of racist violence, Rise set out to include advocacy work for the AAPI community. Nguyen, who grew up loving Mulan, appreciates how Disney princesses and queens show that courage should not be just a masculine performance, “that you can be brave as long as you are vulnerable, that courage does not mean lack of fear,” she says. “I think Disney princesses and queens are so feminist.

Despite everything she has achieved, Nguyen, who was an intern at NASA, still has one big goal: space. She has long talked about her dream of becoming an astronaut and hints that it may just come true. “I will just say that I am very excited about my future and I still really want to be an astronaut” – AG

Stylized by Sarah Zendehas; hair by Nicholas Eldin for Bumble and Bumble; makeup by Misuzu Miyake for Chanel Beauty; produced by Fiona Lennon.


Padma Lakshmi

Padma Lakshmi stands on a balcony overlooking New York, dressed in a gold dress with sequins


Celeste Sloman

When Padma Lakshmi Krishna’s daughter was very young, Top chef and Taste the nation the host told his stories of food that unites families and cultures. A version of these stories has evolved into Tomatoes for the NileLakshmi’s debut children’s book is now available through Viking Books for Young Readers. Krishna is already 11, “but children’s books take a long time!” Lakshmi says with a laugh. “In our hectic lives, one of the things we’ve lost – which I hope we’ve regained a little [in quarantine]- is the art of just spending time together and passing on skills and knowledge and all these family stories. ”

Another story involving family and food that Lakshmi and her daughter connect with is that of Disney The princess and the frog. “We love Tiana because she is very steadfast and does not expect an easy way out,” says Lakshmi. “A lot of success in life comes from talent, but more sustainable success comes from diligence and hard work and the understanding that there is no one set, fixed goal that you will reach where you have” achieved “. I think that is really a fairy tale. “-MG

Stylized by Sarah Zendehas; hair by Reina Garcia; makeup by Raul Otero in The Wall Group; produced by Fiona Lennon.

This article appears in the October 2021 issue of ELLE.


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