Friday, September 24, 2010

Raven Symone on Disney's Tinkerbell, Sage Bill Cosby Advice, and Ducking TMZ

Fresh off her star turn as the voice of Tinkerbell’s super cutie, chocolate BFF Iridessa in the newly-released Disney DVD Tinkerbell and the Great Fairy Rescue, Disney starchild Raven Symone stopped by earlier this week to sprinkle some fairy dust on the MyBrownBaby stoop. Oh, the sparkle! Oh the glitter! The Cosby Show alum, who found huge success as the hysterical and clairvoyant lead in the ever popular sitcom That’s So Raven, waxed poetic on the beauty of brown princesses, the best lesson Bill Cosby ever taught her, tips for ducking TMZ, and her dream job at age 40.

Your babies will absolutely adore Iridessa because…
Her outfit is made from sunflower petals—so cute! She’s also a light fairy, which means she makes the rainbows come alive and puts the lights in the fireflies’ little bums, and she’s the type of girl that always gets straight A’s, but she’s not one of those irritating straight-A kind of girls. She’s still down for the cause, but she’s the girl who will come with you on your adventure and say, “You know this isn’t right, right? Okay, just so you know. Now let’s go move something and scare somebody!”

It’s important to have brown girls Disney line-up because…
It’s wonderful and long overdue. Yes, it took a while, but I think the stories they’re portraying us in these Disney moves are great. I love that they’re princesses and learning a lesson just as good as any Cinderella or Snow White would, and it’s funny. I really wanted to be a part of it because I was playing an African American; the first Tinkerbell came out before the Princess and the Frog movie and was the first African American character in a Disney movie. But I try my best not to stress over it because when you stress over it, it becomes a big deal. What I like about the characters and especially the shows I’ve been on is that the characters just happen to be black; they’re characters telling stories that can be told in any color. And hopefully, for years to come, that’s how these stories will be looked upon—just good stories that happen to have characters who have brown skin.

I think that’s the most important thing. When you start separating it and making it look like something else, it becomes more of an ordeal. That’s the one thing I learned a lot from Mr. Cosby and the shows that I’ve done afterward. 
The difference between us is that there’s a little bit of melanin. Everything else? The same. I have the same kidneys, the same heart. Well, not the same hair grade, unless I buy it. But my nails grow just like anyone else’s. It’s not necessary to go all into the extraness and the differences. Just tell the story.
You don’t see TMZ chasing me down the streets because…
I stay in my house. I order in. You can order anything from the internet! I’m kidding. First of all, a girl can party. Let’s not get it twisted; I’m 24-years-old—I get it in. But I’m very responsible because my mom would kick my butt if I’m not. But I go to all the hot spots after the hypes I gone. If I go out with my girls and I see cameras outside, I’m not going to stop there; I’m going to go to the place up the street, wait for the cameras to leave and then go there and get my party on. It’s really not your business. I don’t go up and down the street saying, “So, who are you dating?” I don’t really care, personally, and I don’t think it’s necessary for other people to scrutinize or ask me about my stuff. I really don’t like all of that.

The transition from child star to grown up worked for me because…
I am who I am. I don’t try to do a role I don’t personally understand because I haven’t reached that point in my life yet. For the longest time there was a movie on my plate they wanted me to do, but I wouldn’t do it because I had to kiss a boy. I don’t like PDA. I know this is my craft but I’m afraid of kissing people on TV. I don’t like it. I did a little bit on That’s So Raven because I knew the person and we were cool and the people behind the scenes were cool about it. But I try my best to pick roles I can understand as a human being and that I’ve been through and as I get older and more comfortable in my skin, I’ll continue to do that. If I’m 30, I’ll pick a role that portrays a 30-year-old in my eyes. I also do things so my parent and my grandparents don’t get mad at me. I don’t want to hear, “You made our family look crazy.” I still have that to worry about. We’re from the south. It’s more than the public I have to listen to; I got my mama and my daddy and my grandparents watching. They’re more of my critics than anyone else.

I really like roles I can understand. I did a movie called Revenge of the Bridesmaids where I played a 26-year-old author. I drank some wine, I said some curse words that people hear everyday that aren’t necessarily the really harsh ones. But you know I’m 24, I got bills to pay, I do stuff like that in my normal life so, I feel like I can do that truthfully on camera. And I will do that for the rest of my life. And the cool thing about it is that working with Disney is that I’m able to go back and forth. With ABC family I can be old, and ABC I can be older, and Disney I can be a character in Tinkerbell and still have fun with that. I think when people put too much emphasis on anything, it makes people say, “Oh my gosh, what’s going on?” Just be you. For me I consider myself a comedienne in that sense. My risk-taking will definitely come as I grow up and I mature.

I don’t mind being a role model for kids who wear my name on their shirts and backpacks, but…
I didn’t get into acting to become a role model. I understand people are looking at me and looking up to me, but the one thing I have to say to those people is, it’s really cool to admire people for sure. But realize there are so many other people in this world who are 17 million times better than I that you should be looking up toward. The people doing volunteer work, the people in the trenches cleaning up after natural disasters and disasters that humans make themselves, we need to need to start focusing on them and less on the entertainment industry. And yes this may take some work away from me, but we need to realize that we’re humanity and there’s more to life than music and acting. But I am conscious in the sense that when I have children and those children have children, I want to make sure that they’re proud of their grandma. I do it for that reason. Any other reason to me is selfish.

The thing people getting into the business most need to do is…
Understand the business aspect of the industry and see what people go through. There are a lot of people in the industry that, even though you might only see them when they’re in their drunken stupor or they’re about to go to jail, their business acumen is crazy. I love telling people about my work behind the scenes. I learned it all before I turned 18; I used to go to the meetings with my parents and they would say, “Shh… don’t speak.” You hear more when you listen. When you’re talking, the only thing you can hear is yourself. So I learned that when I was young. And as I grow up, especially being an African American young woman in the industry for the last 23 years, I’m clear that people want to come in and make money off me but not really know who I am and try to change me. You have to take control of your business, your brand, and your likeness.

Being famous is easy. But to sustain a career takes work. I’m still learning because there are changes everyday. I mean, I’m old school; I grew up in the 90s. I’m really bad at Twitter. Worse than a 75-year-old. But no one knows me better than me, and I have to put myself out there and take chances and if anything bad happens, I don’t want to have to blame anyone but me. It’s my choice and I live with it.

My goal in life is…
That by the time I’m 40, I’m sitting up in a beautiful mansion in the middle of nowhere and this phone call happens at 10 a.m. every morning and someone says, “This is how much you have in your account,” and I happily say, “Okay, thank you!”

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  1. I love Raven. She has grown up under the scrutiny of Hollywood lights but she has such a level head on her shoulders.

  2. Yes, Raven is such an inspiration! She's on my oldest daughter's vision board, and I'm relieved there are still options of young stars like her and KeKe Palmer that young girls can look to.

  3. Have always admired Raven and how she has come up! Great example.



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