Allow us to take you down memory lane. When you were younger, can you recall a moment you felt seen? Maybe it was when you got to wear exactly what you wanted to school, or perhaps it was when you watched a cartoon and identified with a character for the first time. The arts have always held the unique power to give individuals a means of expression and show the full breadth of humanity. And no other children’s series has done that like The Proud Family. It goes without saying that the Disney animated series was iconic in its own right. It was the first cartoon from the network to follow the lives of an unapologetically Black family as they navigated the world. And while representation at this moment in time feels as if it’s been a part of the cultural conversation forever, when this series aired in 2001, that wasn’t the case. Few characters, much less animated characters, explored the Black diaspora. In many ways, this series pushed the culture forward through teenage protagonist Penny Proud and her boisterous family’s representation of domestic life, religion, and race.
Considering how iconic this series became, it was only a matter of time before a reboot was in order, one that we welcome wholeheartedly. In February, the first episode of The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder was released on Disney+ with a star-studded cast, including Keke Palmer and Billy Porter. So when offered the opportunity to speak with the cast about the reboot, we clearly jumped at the chance. Ahead, you’ll hear from Kyla Pratt (aka Penny Proud) and EJ Johnson (aka Michael Collins) on why this reboot is more critical than ever, their careers, and what living loud and proud means to them.