‘That’s So Raven’ co-star says Raven-Symoné was not initially the show’s lead due to ‘racism’

  • “That’s So Raven” star Anneliese van der Pol said that Raven-Symoné was not the series’ initial lead.
  • On the Christy Carlson Romano podcast, the actor suggested it was due to “racism.”
  • “They couldn’t really see a black girl leading a show,” she said, referring to the Disney Channel.

“It’s So Raven” star Anneliese van der Pol recently told a fellow Disney Channel alum Christy Carlson Romano who believes Raven-Symoné was not initially cast as the lead in the hit sitcom due to “racism.”

In Tuesday’s episode of Romano’s “Vulnerable” Podcastvan der Pol, who played Raven Baxter’s best friend, Chelsea Daniels, in the Emmy nominated show about a teenage girl named Raven with psychic powers, she explained that when she began auditioning for the show, it was called “Absolutely Psychic” and the Raven-Symoné character was not the star.

“She was the partner… They were looking for a lead,” Van der Pol said about six minutes into the podcast. Van der Pol initially auditioned to play the main character, who he thought was called Molly. Another actor, whom he did not name, eventually got the lead role and the character of Raven-Symoné was supported.

But that all changed when production actually began, according to van der Pol.

“When they filmed, they realized that Raven was the funniest and had a huge following, so they bumped her up to the top spot,” she said, adding that when they revamped the show to focus on Raven Baxter, they auditioned people again. . At that time, van der Pol landed the role of Chelsea.

Van der Pol told Romano that he thought Raven-Symoné not getting the lead role in the first place was “racism on a low level, I guess if that’s even a possibility.”

“They couldn’t really see a black girl leading a show,” she suggested, speaking of Disney. She claimed that the company could only see Raven as a partner.

“And it’s fun,” Romano replied, “with Disney it’s not personal, it’s business.”

Representatives for Disney and Brookwell McNamara Entertainment, the production company that produced the first three seasons of “That’s So Raven,” did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Anneliese van der Pol as Bella and Raven-Symoné.

Anneliese van der Pol as Belle and Raven-Symoné backstage at “Beauty and the Beast” on Broadway.

Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic

Later in their conversation, van der Pol told Romano that he knew Raven-Symoné, who married his wife Miranda Maday in 2020was gay “by the time I met her” during the casting process for “That’s So Raven,” which began airing in 2003 and concluded with its fourth and final season in 2007. Van der Pol said they came together from that moment because Raven-Symoné felt comfortable with someone who knew her full identity.

The former talk show host came out of the closet when she was in college.

“That’s So Raven” was so successful with Raven-Symoné at the helm that it spawned two spin-offs. The first, called “Cory in the House,” followed Raven’s younger brother, Cory (Kyle Massey), as he moved with his father, Victor (Rondell Sheridan), to San Francisco, where “That’s So Raven” was set. to Washington, DC, when Victor became the president’s personal chef. It aired for two seasons between 2007 and 2008.

Disney Channel then released a revival called “Raven’s Home” in 2017 that is still on the air. It began with Raven and Chelsea, now adults, living together while Chelsea supported the newly single Raven in raising her twin sons. Van der Pol exited the series in 2022, after the fourth season.

In a 2022 interview with Them, Raven-Symoné said that she thought the fact that she was gay was a “bad reason” for making her character Raven Baxter gay. She then, on the show, she plays a divorced straight woman.

"it's so Raven"

“That’s So Raven” is one of Disney’s most successful franchises.

Photo by ABC Photo Archives/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images

What is discussed the topic later on the “Pride” podcastThe “Bold Type” star said she likes to distance herself from her characters as much as possible, because as a black gay woman, “I’m a stereotype for the rest of my life, keep it 100.”

“Raven’s Home” airs Sundays at 8 pm on the Disney Channel.

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