Disney is developing its first African-led fairytale film starring Sadé, a Yoruba princess from Nigeria

Disney has reportedly bought the pitch to Sadé, a screenplay about “a young African girl named Sadé whose kingdom is threatened by a mysterious evil force and accepts her newly discovered magical powers to protect her people, with the help of the kingdom’s prince,” from Nigerian and American writers Ola Shokunbi and Lindsey Reed Palmer, according to entertainment website Deadline Hollywood. The pair are set to co-write the live-action fairytale film with Rick Famuyiwa, the Nigerian-American director of the 2015 drama Dope, attached to produce.

While it is pretty much a standard fairy tale plot including a mysterious evil force, a prince, and the princess herself gaining her own magical powers in a more socially conscious move, Sadé will mark the first Disney film in which an African princess takes the lead role. 

Rick Famuyiwa at The Chi’ TV show FYC event, Arrivals, Los Angeles, USA. 09 Mar 2018. Photo by Rob Latour/Variety/REX/Shutterstock

Disney has seen diversification in its films in the past few decades, with its studios Pixar and Marvel seeing massive success with movies such as Coco, a film which taps into the Mexican traditions of the Day of the Dead, and Black Panther, an African-based movie which went on to become a pop culture phenomenon, raking in $1.35 billion worldwide and becoming the third-highest domestic performer of all time at $700 million with its portrayal of a superhero from the fictional African nation of Wakanda.  

Now it seems the highly recognised company aims to set another record by tapping into the phenomenal popularity of diversification with complex black-led characters like Black Panther’s Shuri whose lead role written by author Nnedi Okorafor is set to be adapted to the big screens. Once more with Sadé, Disney aims to fill in the racial gap by offering young black audiences a role model to look up to. However, this is not the studio’s first black princess. Disney, in 2009, released the animated film The Princess and the Frog starring Anika Noni Rose as a black waitress in 1912 New Orleans who runs into a prince cursed into being a frog. unfortunately the box office performance (at $265 million worldwide) was considered a disappointment by Disney.

Scott Falconer will executive produce through their Verse production banner. Tendo Nagenda and Zoe Kent are overseeing the project for the studio. However, a director is yet to be named.