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That's So Raven Star Reveals Raven-Symoné Was NOT Originally Cast As Lead -- Due To 'Racism'!

Disney Star Anneliese Van Der Pol Reveals Raven Symoné Was Not Originally Cast As The Lead On That's So Raven Due To 'Racism'!

A former Disney star is making a shocking revelation about the early days of That’s So Raven

2000s kids know Raven-Symoné starred in the popular series on Disney Channel from 2003 to 2007. And between her leading role on the show and in the hit franchise Cheetah Girls, the 37-year-old singer became one of the biggest stars for the network back in the day. However, we came dangerously close to a world where that never happened for Raven — and for a terrible reason!

Related: Monique Coleman Says Disney Didn’t Invite Her On High School Musical 3 Press Tour

Her co-star Anneliese van der Pol, who portrayed bestie Chelsea Daniels, revealed to Christy Carlson Romano on Tuesday’s episode of the Vulnerable podcast that when she first auditioned for the show, Raven wasn’t cast as the lead. She was brought on to be the “sidekick.” WHAT?! The 38-year-old explained:

“When I went in to audition, the show was called ‘Absolutely Psychic.’ It wasn’t called ‘That’s So Raven’ at all.”

Absolutely Psychic — what a horrible name! She continued:

“At the time, Raven wasn’t the lead. She was the sidekick. They were looking for a lead and I came in to audition for the lead. I think the character’s name was Molly. I auditioned and a couple of other people auditioned. I didn’t get the part — somebody else got the part.”

They actually cast it?! Wow!

However, Anneliese recalled that the production team soon realized their mistake after witnessing how funny Raven was. It was clear she was the star anyway, so they decided to give her the main role instead:

“When they filmed, they realized Raven was the funniest one and had a following, and so they bumped her up to first position, and then they started auditioning people again. I went into a big cattle call and I finally got the part. I think the character’s name was like Molly, then Emma, and then it became Chelsea.”

It’s hard to imagine the one-time The View host wasn’t Disney’s first choice to lead the show, considering she was already a successful child star. Why wouldn’t they have just cast her in the starring role to begin with? Anneliese said it came down to one thing: racism. She explained:

“I think that was kind of, like, racism at a low level — I guess if that’s even a possibility. They couldn’t really see a Black girl leading a show. They only saw her as a sidekick.”


That’s So Raven ultimately went on to become a massive success, creating 100 episodes and lasting four seasons. The show scored two Emmy nominations for Outstanding Children’s Program. It was so popular that Disney created two spinoffs, Cory in the House and Raven’s Home, in which Anneliese starred for the first four seasons. So clearly it was a huge success — and a Black girl was the perfect lead!

You can ch-ch-check out the mind-blowing full podcast interview (below):

Reactions, Perezcious readers? Let us know in the comments below!

[Image via Christy Carlson Romano/YouTube, Disney Channel/YouTube]

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Apr 26, 2023 12:20pm PDT