You’ve watched princesses and divas grace the screens, big in the theater at first, then on your personal tube at home, and even though you’ve seen these movies dozens of times, have you ever wondered if the women behind the voices can make you feel the same way as their illustrated counterparts? All the women on this list have unique talent only heightened by their natural charm and beauty. Most are our favorite Disney princesses, but there are a couple on here that might surprise you as well as bring back fond memories.
These lucky ladies not only have gotten to work with the best of the best, but they acted their butts off to give us performances that make their animated characters come to life in our minds and hearts. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that the characters are sweet, sexy, and perfect in just about every way!
Who are the women behind the magic? It stands to reason that, with the exception of Dory from Finding Nemo, that if these actresses can manifest a fleshed out and fascinating female lead, that they themselves must have that special something! I’ll tell you a little bit about each of the actresses I picked and how they landed the roles that will carry them down as legends in animated history.
15. Kristen Bell – Princess Anna
Kristen Bell is one hard working mama. She’s been acting since she was thirteen, and has a long list of film credits for highly praised movies. It was her role in Veronica Mars that truly propelled her to stardom.
She landed the role of Princess Anna, Elsa’s likeable sister, in Disney’s Frozen in 2013. She continues to work in the industry as though she can’t get enough of working. Bell must love her career, and her track history shows that her talents spread far and wide.
14. Anika Noni Rose – Tiana
Anika Noni Rose worked her booty off to get where she is. She moved to New York without a job in hopes of joining the stage, and within three months had her first gig. In 2009, she landed the role of voicing Tiana, and will forever be known as the first black Disney princess. She’s still hard at work as always, and probably will be until she can’t anymore. For someone to have as many credits under her belt as Rose, you know it’s not exactly work for her. It’s passion, it’s fun, it’s life!
13. Jodi Benson – Ariel
Jodi Benson is a busy bee! Before she recorded a sample song for Howard Ashman’s work on The Little Mermaid, she was primarily a stage actress. Her demo landed her the role of voicing Ariel, the little mermaid herself. It was the beginning of a long and lucrative career doing voice-over work for Disney, including The Little Mermaid’s follow ups, and as Barbie in the Toy Story movies. She’s hard working with a natural beauty that she carries with her wherever she goes.
12. Mandy Moore – Rapunzel
Mandy Moore is as busy as busy can be. She landed the role to voice Rapunzel in Disney’s Tangled in 2010. But that’s just a little slice of this actress’s massive work load. She has been a part of film and TV for ages, and also has her fingers in philanthropy, helping in a variety of needs to help the people who are less fortunate in the world.
She’s not up to much these days. In 2005, she started her own clothing line, but it didn’t work out in the long run. She hopes to reignite that passion in the future, she says.
11. Ilene Woods – Cinderella
Ilene Woods beat out 300 other women who auditioned for the role of voicing Cinderella in Disney’s Cinderella. She had recorded a demo with Mack David and Jerry Livingston, which they submitted to Disney. Two days after Walt Disney heard the demo, he offered her the leading role of Cinderella. She continued to sing, but didn’t have the height of success she received portraying Cinderella’s voice.
10. Adriana Caselotti – Snow White
Adriana Caselotti voiced Snow White in Disney’s Snow White. She was paid $970 in 1935 for the job. After that, she had trouble finding work because Disney wouldn’t allow her to do voice work. Supposedly it was because they wanted to keep the mystique of the princess of the movie. She had uncredited roles in some major block busters, and later tried her voice at opera, but that didn’t pan out. She died in 1997 after having been named a Disney legend in 1994.
9. Eleanor Audley – Maleficent
Eleanor Audley was the voice talent for both Cinderella’s evil stepmother and fan favorite Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty. She was that talented! She almost didn’t take the role of Maleficent because she was battling tuberculosis, but the stars lined up just right and she ended up embodying the horrific Maleficent. She worked all her life on various projects and died in 1991.
8. Ming-Na Wen – Mulan
Ming-Na Wen got the role of Fa Mulan in Disney’s Mulan in 2005, but it wasn’t her first time in film. She had been acting since 1993. She’s been in high profile TV series like ER. She continues to work in the field, always on the lookout for something new. Versatile and ultra-talented, Ming-Na Wen will be on the scene for some time to come. Who knows, perhaps she’ll reprise her role as Fa Mulan in a sequel? One can dream.
7. Susan Egan – Megara in Hercules
Susan Egan had dabbled in many channels of the arts, ranging from voice-over work, stage acting (she played Belle in Broadway’s adaptation of Beauty and the Beast), singing, dancing and doing comedian work. She was the voice of Megara in Disney’s Hercules in 1997, bringing her the status of playing a Disney princess. She’s beautiful, talented and driven to succeed in the acting arts, and she’s doing a fine job of it.
6. Linda Larkin – Jasmine
Remember this Arabian beauty who graced our screens back in the 90s? Linda Larkin voiced the character Jasmine in Disney’s Aladdin in 1992 and again in the video game Kingdom Hearts. She is a film and television star, continuing to pick up small roles as she can find them. Not much is known about her personal life or how she got the role of Jasmine, except she was told she had to lower her tone of voice to capture Jasmine’s character. Hey, whatever works.
5. Irene Bedard – Pocahontas
Irene Bedard voiced Disney’s lead Pocahontas in the movie by the same name. She’s Native American, and has also had other roles related to her ancestry.It’s like she was born for this role. Born in Anchorage, she was exposed to her culture and judging by her performance in Pocahontas, she used what she knew. The mysterious young Indian Princess of the film captures the imagination that Bedard put into the movie, and not only was she the voice actress, but Disney used her as the model for the animated character.
5. Kelly Macdonald – Princess Merida
You knew her voice sounded so familiar! Kelly Macdonald voiced Princess Merida in the movie Brave. This role was far along in a long list of acting credits in movies, including some well-known and highly-regarded films. She brought to life the spunky, rebellious Princess Merida completely, having the ability to make us believe that Merida is her own person, animated or not. Macdonald is a creative force to be reckoned with.
4. Kathleen Turner – Jessica Rabbit
Kathleen Turner was, yes, the great and unforgettable Jessica Rabbit from Who Framed Roger Rabbit? in 1988. Whoever has seen Jessica Rabbit will likely never forget her seductive, smooth voice and over-the-top body measurements. Kathleen Turner brought her to life, giving her a distinct personality that no animated femme fatale has duplicated. Turner has been working in acting all her life with a successful career as long as driving across Wyoming.
3. Ellen DeGeneres – Dory
Ellen Degeneres has been in the entertainment business forever and a day. She voiced the role of Dory, the fish with short-term memory problems, in Disney’s 2003 Finding Nemo. She’s had her hands in comedy, hosting TV shows, acting, writing and producing. Yeah, she’s done it all and she’ll keep doing it for a very long time. And that’s fine with us, as long as we get to hear her one more time playing Dory.
2. Kathryn Beaumont – Alice In Wonderland
Kathryn Beaumont voiced both Alice from Disney’s Alice in Wonderland in 1951, and Wendy in Peter Pan in 1953. She had a long track record of acting in films before being offered the roles, and continued to act throughout her life. She also voices Alice and Wendy in the Kingdom Hearts game put out by Square Enix.
1. Idina Menzel – Elsa
Idina Menzel is best known for voicing Elsa in Disney’s animated movie, Frozen. She also won a Grammy and an Oscar for singing the song at the events. She has a long history in the music business and continues to work today, spreading her beautiful voice for all to hear. We look forward to seeing what she does next.