Anika Noni Rose fulfilled a lifelong ambition with her Disney debut. “Since I was a little kid I wanted to work for Disney—and I didn’t need to be the Princess! I would have been a tick or a flea!”
Born on September 6, 1972, in Bloomfield, Connecticut, Anika received classical training at the San Francisco American Conservatory Theater. She soon set her sites on the Broadway stage and was hired for the production of the musical Footloose. Her theatre repertoire also includes Eli’s Comin’, for which she received an Obie Award in 2001; the role of Lutiebelle in the Encores! production of Purlie; and roles in The Threepenny Opera and Tartuffe, which played at A.C.T’s Geary Theater.
For her breathtaking performance on Broadway in Caroline, or Change, Anika won the 2004 Tony® Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical. When she reprised the role in the West Coast productions in San Francisco and Los Angeles, Anika won both the Los Angeles Critics Circle Award and an Ovation Award. Returning to the New York stage in 2007, Anika tackled Tennessee Williams as Maggie the Cat, a role made famous by Elizabeth Taylor, in a revival of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, opposite Terrence Howard, James Earl Jones, and Phylicia Rashad.
On television, Anika was cast in an adaptation of The New York Times bestseller The Starter Wife” in 2007, which debuted to record ratings and earned multiple Emmy® nominations. She moved next to the television series adaptation of another huge literary phenomenon, HBO’s The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency in the role of Grace Makutsi. Anika has also had a featured role in the CBS series The Good Wife.
Anika’s breakout role on film came in 2006 when she played Lorrell Robinson, the third member of the legendary trio at the center of Dreamgirls. She was nominated for an NAACP Image Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, and shared a Grammy nomination with Beyonce Knowles and Jennifer Hudson for the Dreamgirls soundtrack album. In 2008, Anika also played a role in the independent comedy feature Just Add Water, directed by Hart Bochner and co-starring Danny DeVito and Justin Long. She was also featured in the ensemble cast of Tyler Perry’s For Colored Girls.
When Disney came calling, Anika dazzled as Tiana in 2009’s The Princess and the Frog, making the song “Almost There” an instant Disney classic.
“I always dreamed of being a voice in a Disney movie, but even in those dreams, I never once dreamed of being a princess,” she once said. “I just wanted to be a voice. I feel like what an honor that this is how the dream comes true, bigger and stronger than I had even imagined it.
“I feel like I am in such a beautiful spot right now,” Anika said at the time. “I feel like I’m living my fairy tale in this portion of my career.”