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The Surprising Reason Beyoncé Lost Out on a Disney Princess Role

The superstar was in the running for the lead of The Princess and the Frog.

The Princess and the Frog, the 2009 animated feature about a hardworking waitress in 1920s Louisiana who kisses a frog and makes her dreams come true, made history for featuring Disney's first Black princess. But few people know that it almost had a different lead—superstar Beyoncé. In her 2013 memoir, Confessions of a Casting Director, casting director Jen Rudin shared that the Grammy-winning superstar pursued the role but lost out to Anika Noni Rose over one thing. Read on to find out more.

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Jennifer Hudson and Alicia Keys auditioned to be Tiana.

Jennifer Hudson in 2018
Fred Duval/Shutterstock

When the coveted role was announced, it attracted a lot of attention, and Rudin wrote that her phone was soon "ringing off the hook" with stars interested in the role, including America's Next Top Model host Tyra Banks and Alicia Keys. The casting director wrote that the latter's existing talent deal with Disney meant going with her would have "made sense politically." But then the movie musical Dreamgirls came out—and with it, a stunning performance by future Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson. The American Idol alum was quickly brought into the audition process, despite difficulty making it work with the recording schedule for her new album.

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Beyoncé was interested in the role—on one condition.

Beyonce performing in 2023
Kevin Mazur/WireImage for Parkwood

According to Rudin, there was another major singer who was interested in the role. Hudson's Dreamgirls costar Beyoncé's agent "kept calling" to campaign for her, according to the book. However, there was one big issue with her audition—namely, that it didn't happen.

The Destiny's Child singer's agent "insisted she was 'offer only,' which meant we would have to offer her the role without her coming in to audition," Rudin wrote. Those conditions apparently didn't cut it for everyone involved in casting the princess role.

"Beyoncé expected an offer, but wouldn't audition and so she didn't get one," Rudin was quoted in Business Insider.

A third Dreamgirl was ultimately cast.

Anika Noni Rose in 2023
lev radin/Shutterstock

There was another actor who Rudin had favored for the role from the start, however. Broadway performer Anika Noni Rose had played Lorell Maya Robinson alongside Knowles and Hudson in Dreamgirls. The casting director wrote that she felt from the beginning that Rose had just the right voice and was "the most qualified" for the voice part. She was also willing to wait through the five-month casting process.

When Hudson ended up dropping out of the running, executives sat down together in a room and listened to potential voices with their eyes closed. In the end, they didn't feel as though Keys' voice "belonged to a princess who lived in New Orleans in the 1920s." Disney ended up going with Rose to play the Jazz Age aspiring restauranteur.

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Beyoncé eventually joined a different Disney production.

Anchored by Rose, The Princess and the Frog went on to earn more than $267 million at the box office.

While she missed out on playing Tiana, Beyoncé later took on a different role in another animated film, voicing Queen Tara in 2013's Epic. She also went on to join the Disney canon as another Disney princess of sorts, voicing Nala in the 2019 computer-animated version of The Lion King. No word on whether she had to audition first.

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Andrew Miller
Andrew Miller is a pop culture writer living in New York. Read more
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