Meet 5 Black Women Behind Disney’s New ‘Princess & the Frog’ Inspired Attraction


April 2, 2024

Set to open in the summer of 2024, this new attraction will have more than a splash of #BlackGirlMagic!

As Disney‘s beloved animated classic The Princess and the Frog marks its 15th anniversary, the anticipation for the immersive experience of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, set to debut in both Disneyland Park and Magic Kingdom Park, is hard for Disney fans to contain. Behind the scenes, remarkable Black women are leading the charge, infusing the project with creativity, innovation, and the essence of Black Girl Magic.

Carmen Smith

Courtesy of Disney Parks

At the forefront of this endeavor stands Carmen Smith, the Senior Vice President and Executive Creative Development Product/Content & Inclusive Strategies at Disney Parks, Experiences and Products. With a dedication to inclusivity and storytelling, Carmen ensures that Disney attractions resonate deeply with guests from all walks of life. Her career, rooted in a passion for the power of inclusion, has seen her spearhead groundbreaking initiatives that redefine the boundaries of imagination and representation.

Carmen’s journey is one of inspiration and determination, guided by the belief that everyone deserves to feel welcomed, seen, and heard. With a team of esteemed cultural advisors by her side, she plays an integral role in the development of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, infusing it with a sense of authenticity and relevance that captivates the hearts of guests worldwide. Through her visionary leadership, Carmen exemplifies the essence of Black Girl Magic, weaving narratives that celebrate diversity and empowerment.

Charita Carter

Credit: Kathy Schuh Photography

As the Executive Creative Producer behind Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, Charita Carter brings her expertise and creative prowess to the forefront of Disney Imagineering. With more than two decades of experience within the Walt Disney Imagineering family, Charita’s journey is defined by a relentless pursuit of excellence and innovation.

From brainstorming to delivery, Charita’s role encompasses the entire spectrum of creative production, shaping every aspect of the immersive experience. Her contributions to Walt Disney Imagineering’s Scenic Illusion team have garnered numerous patents, showcasing her ability to push the boundaries of storytelling through cutting-edge technology. With Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, Charita continues to leave her mark on the Disney story, crafting unforgettable experiences that transport guests to the vibrant world of Princess Tiana and her beloved companions.

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Brittany L. Smith

At the heart of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure lies the artistry of Senior Production Designer Brittany L. Smith. With a master’s degree in fine art and a passion for bringing Disney characters to life, Brittany’s role is pivotal in ensuring the authenticity and charm of every detail within the attraction.

As a figure-finishing expert, Brittany’s expertise lies in the meticulous craftsmanship that breathes life into Audio-Animatronics figures. Her dedication to her craft injects each character with a sense of magic and wonder. Her contributions extend beyond Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, including iconic attractions such as Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion, where her artistic vision continues to enchant guests from around the world.


Malaika Favorite

Credit: Olga Thompson

In the heart of Louisiana’s vibrant culture, Malaika Favorite has shared the essence of the state in a breathtaking masterpiece. Her artwork will soon grace the walls of the Tiana’s Bayou Adventure ride queue. Drawing inspiration from the murals adorning New Orleans’ historic buildings, Princess Tiana’s vision of infusing art into every corner of her beloved bayou is perfectly captured by Malaika’s talent.

“When we were exploring how to introduce guests to the story of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure as they prepared to embark on the attraction, maintaining the authenticity of Princess Tiana’s experience as a young Black woman striving to achieve her dream in the soulful backdrop of New Orleans was one of our highest priorities. It only makes sense that an extensive search for an artist who could bring our vision to life brought us to Malaika’s doorstep,” Carmen Smith wrote on Disney Parks blog.


Sharika Mahdi

Credit: Disney Parks

“Making a big deal about everything and celebrating everything,” artist Sharika Mahdi remarks of the region that inspires her artwork–New Orleans. “I want to show this is what it’s about, being a part of New Orleans and being a part of the culture.”

The commissioned series by Sharika played a pivotal role in inspiring the Imagineers tasked with bringing the beloved story of Tiana to life. Each piece of artwork included the rich cultural tapestry and infectious energy of New Orleans, serving as a guiding light for the creative process.

As shared by Carmen Smith, Mahdi’s journey with Walt Disney Imagineering began through the renowned YAYA (Young Aspirations Young Artists) youth art program. YAYA is dedicated to nurturing the creative talents of young individuals in New Orleans, offering them a platform to develop their skills in visual arts alongside valuable entrepreneurial and life training. As a proud alumna of YAYA, Sharika’s flair, characterized by unique compositions and vibrant color techniques, immediately caught the attention of the attraction’s team.


The team behind Tiana’s Bayou Adventure has not only crafted a captivating attraction but also written real-life stories of New Orleans into its story. Through the dedication and creativity of Black women, this immersive experience is infused with the essence of our culture, our resilience, and our Black Girl Magic. As visitors join on Tiana’s journey through the bayou, they will not only be transported to a magical world but also immersed in a fun celebration of the rich tapestry of our heritage.

Cover photo: 5 Black Women Who are Making Magic for Disney’s Tiana’s Bayou Adventure Attraction / Courtesy of Disney Parks

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