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Once Upon a Dream Job:

Modern Day Disney Princesses

By Ali Williams

Edited by Sara Katz-Scher

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

“A Princess!”

Many of us spent our childhoods waiting for the glittery arrival of our fairy godmother or for a knight in shining armor to ride to our rescue; our fantasies consumed us until we were at last told, “you can’t be a princess… how about a doctor?” So we ditched the tiara for a briefcase, and in doing so left behind the message of our favorite fairy tales.

The true spirit of a princess has little to do with her glittering gowns and fairy godmother; the power of the princess is in her kindness, bravery, and sense of adventure. The trouble with fairytales is that the stories are set in patriarchal eras in fantasy lands. Critics attack Disney Princesses for being bad role models, when in fact, these characters are strong, inspirational role models.

As a long-time admirer of these fairy tales, a thought struck me: what if the Disney Princesses were living today? What kind of careers might they pursue if they had the opportunity? Would critics still perceive them as weak role models, or might their perceptions change?

In honor of International Women’s Day, I organized a collaborative project with members of the Disney Princess cosplay community and talented photographers from the cosplay world. Together, we created a photo project that delves into the personalities of our favorite Disney Princesses and who they are as individuals. 

After all, you don't need a crown to change the world.

Featured in articles from BuzzFeed to The Insider.

Click on the image to see the full article

Snow White, the Therapist

Snow White’s knack for finding the good in others and helping them be their best makes her an adept therapist. She specializes in group counseling and is working on her upcoming book, “From Grumpy to Happy: The Whistle While You Work Method.”

Cosplayer: Teena Phoenix ( )

Photographer: Jim Donnelly ( )

Pocahontas, the Politician

One with the people and an ever fearless leader, Pocahontas began her political career as an activist fighting for equal rights and environmental protection before being elected Governor of Virginia. Now a Senator, she is the first Native American woman to run for United States President.

Cosplayer: Colana Suzuki ( )

Photographer: Jim Donnelly ( )

Graphic Design: Neil A. Williams II ( )

Elsa, the Architect

In the film Frozen, Elsa destroys her family and her kingdom with her ice powers. She later learns to control her powers and rebuilds with love. Today, Elsa is a disaster-relief architect, helping families rebuild after natural disasters.

Cosplayer: Holland Phoenix ( )

Photographer: Ruy Arena ( )

Rapunzel, the Teacher

Effervescent and creative, Rapunzel loves teaching children new things. Her degree in child development enables her to help them reach beyond their towers. Her curriculum is bursting with field trips that turn learning into the best day ever.

Cosplayer: Joanna Lynn Bert ( )

Photographer: Jim Donnelly ( )

Location: Newbury Oaks Preschool ( )

Belle, the Traveling Writer

In "Beauty and the Beast", Belle dreams of having adventures as incredible as the ones in her beloved books, so naturally her two passions have combined. After her first national best-seller, Belle travels the great wide somewhere working on her next novel, bringing along her tablet loaded with ebooks for company.

Cosplayer: Lexi ( )

Photographer: Jim Donnelly ( )

Ariel, the Archaeologist

This little mermaid finally has legs and is actively exploring the human world. She travels the globe uncovering human things previously lost to history, and brings them back to museums so they'll finally be where the people are.

Cosplayer: Ali Williams ( )

Photographer: Ruy Arena ( )

Tiana, the Food Scientist

Tiana, ever the pioneer in the culinary arts, pushes the envelope as a molecular gastronomist. She combines her skills as a chef with science to create multi-sensory meals featuring that signature Louisiana flavor. Her nitrogen-frozen beignets are one of her most popular dishes. Never forgetting her roots, Tiana spends her spare time giving back to the community as a volunteer nutritionist.

Cosplayer: Krystina Arielle Tigner ( )

Photographer: Jim Donnelly ( )

Anna, the Wedding Planner

Anna’s optimistic perspective on romance and passion for adventure shines through her job as a destination wedding planner. She designs weddings worth melting for, and is known for designing the most elaborate chocolate fountains in the business.

Cosplayer: The Spritely One ( )

Photographer: Jim Donnelly ( )

Aurora, the Lawyer

This sleeping beauty is woke and ready to slay some corporate dragons. Dancing through the courtroom with the grace of a princess, this high-powered antitrust lawyer needs no prince to help her challenge monopolizing corporations. Aurora applies her cunning wit to combat corporate evil and just made partner at Hubert, Stefan, and Merryweather.

Cosplayer: Sara Katz-Scher ( )

Photographer: Jim Donnelly ( )


Ali Williams

Download the PRESS RELEASE and high resolution versions of the photographs HERE

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