According to the executive producers, the sophomore season is even ‘louder and prouder,’ with new characters and deeper stories centered on culturally significant experiences within the Black community such as interracial dating and Juneteenth; new season debuts February 1 on Disney+.
The Kids Choice and Annie Award-winning series The Proud Family has been a Disney viewer favorite since it first aired in 2001. 17 years after its series finale in 2005, the show was rebooted in 2022 as The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder, with all its original characters – including Penny Proud, best friends Dijonay and Zoey, parents Oscar and Trudy, twin siblings BeBe and CeCe, and grandmother Suga Mama – all two years older. Louder and Prouder was quickly greenlit for Season 2 ahead of its first season’s finale, and now the wait for new episodes is over.
The second season of the award-winning The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder premieres on Disney+ Wednesday, February 1. The show centers around 16-year-old Penny and her family and friends as they navigate life in Smithville during the 2020s. Louder and Prouder continues to tell entertaining, laugh-out-loud stories – from food fights and pissed off porcupines to bull riding and home heists – while highlighting culturally significant experiences of the Black community as well as addressing universal topics. Various storylines this season include self-worth, interracial dating, and Juneteenth.
Check out the trailer…
Disney Television Animation recently hosted a press conference with The Proud Family creator Bruce Smith and fellow executive producer Ralph Farquhar, who both executive produce the new show, moderated by the studio’s VP of Content and Inclusion Jay Francis, to discuss the revival’s “louder and prouder” second season.
“They can expect much bolder storytelling [this season],” says Smith. “Season 1 was to get us off the mark, reintroduce you to the world that was set up the first time around and bring in more characters. This time around, now that we've got the characters introduced and laid into the landscape, we just are telling stories that we feel like are just much closer to the Black experience.”
Cast members reprising their roles from the original series and returning for Season 2 are Kyla Pratt as Penny Proud; Tommy Davidson as Oscar Proud; Paula Jai Parker as Trudy Proud; JoMarie Payton as Suga Mama; Cedric the Entertainer as Uncle Bobby; Karen Malina White as Dijonay Jones; Soleil Moon Frye as Zoey Howzer; Alisa Reyes as LaCienega Boulevardez; Carlos Mencia as Felix Boulevardez; Maria Canals-Barrera as Sunset Boulevardez; Alvaro Gutierrez as Papi; Raquel Lee Bolleau as Nubia Gross; and Marcus T. Paulk as Myron. Recurring new voices that will also return for the new season include Keke Palmer as Maya Leibowitz-Jenkins; Billy Porter and Zachary Quinto as Randall and Barry Leibowitz-Jenkins; EJ Johnson as Michael Collins; Asante Blackk as Kareem; Artist "A Boogie" Dubose as Francis "KG" Leibowitz-Jenkins; Bresha Webb as CeCe; and Aiden Dodson as BeBe.
“When we set out, everything sort of surrounds Penny Proud and her continued growth, and with her relationship with her parents, her relationship with her friends,” says Smith. “So, empowerment has always been the key. Young Black girl empowerment. That's what the spine of the show is built on. And we surround her with a lot of characters of color to really understand how that growth can apply to her and how she and the things that she learns can be put upon her friends. That agenda doesn't really change for us.”
“We’ve got a huge cast and a lot of characters that people are interested in,” says Farquhar. “So in this Season 2, you're going to see the storylines focus on some of the other characters, such as Maya and KG and Zoe. But expect some real challenging stories. We jump into our Blackness if you will.”
Smith adds, “And that's the fun of it… when we see Ralph and the writers really jam and tell some stories that have great substance to them. For me, I've never worked on a show that has such relatable substance and characters that I know. So, you can really lean into the animation aspects of it in ways that I hadn't really done before.”
Reflecting on the beginning of his journey with The Proud Family – getting pulled off a golf course by Smith and being shown plans for a show that would fill the African American family representation void in animated TV – Farquhar says the reboot has been his and Smith’s chance to not only address bolder topics, but also reach a wider audience demographic.
“We could speak our truth in a more direct way because we were geared for the entire family viewing experience as opposed to just the children aspect of it the first time around,” explains Farquhar. “And even though we were always a show intended for family viewing, I think at the time, Disney was only interested in the children's POV, but we snuck in the adult POV anyway.”
He continues, “It's interesting because the show was written in such a way that adults got certain things the kids didn't get, and the kids got certain things the adults didn't get. So, I think one of the comments we see on social media a lot is a lot of the kids who are now adults are going, ‘Oh wow, I didn't really get all this back in the day.’ So the takeaway is that we were a little bit more intentional in our slyness, if you will, back then, in terms of the topics we were dealing with. So, I think people are getting, from the original episodes a lot more out of it as adults. And then also because they're probably parents now and they're going, ‘Well, kids are a lot.’ Now they're probably identifying more with Trudy and Oscar as opposed to Penny and Dijonay.”
But one of the biggest differences from 2001’s show and today’s is the gender identification in terms of the LGBTQ community.
“In terms of the portrayal of characters, specifically Michael, before we had to be speaking code about his gender identification,” says Farquhar. “And then also, we included new characters into our world, voiced by Zachary Quinto and Billy Porter; same-sex parents who are the parents to [additional new characters] Maya and KG.”
Smith adds, “And even with the characters that we already had, you'll be surprised at twists and turns that happened with Dijonay this season. We get to really do a deeper dive into the characters that you may think you know, and you'll discover that these characters are much more than what you thought.”
As The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder continues to rack up the awards – including a Children's and Family Emmy Award for outstanding casting for an animated program, four NAACP nominations, an Annie Award nomination, and a GLAAD Media Award nomination –Smith and Farquhar credit the show’s success, above all else, to its honest storytelling.
“The show is created by Bruce Smith, and who does Oscar look like? This brother right here,” says Farquhar, gesturing to Smith. “We come by everything in a very honest way. And while no one show can represent everything to everybody, we do our best to show a diversity within our community. I'm old enough to have grown up at a time before housing desegregation. When I grew up back in the '50s, early '60s, on our block, there was a doctor who lived at the corner, there was my middle-class family, there was a family that owned an ice cream factory, and then there was the Jackson family that had 10 kids and were working class.”
The producer continues, “Once desegregation happened, all the people who had money moved out and left everyone else behind. In Smithville, which is named after [Bruce], we have an idealized version of Black life that hearkens back to the '50s when we had a fully balanced community.”
Whether it's addressing colorism, different parenting styles, or the importance of empowering young voices, The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder, as it always has, offers a myriad of life lessons served with laughs that will, hopefully, continue to enlighten a new generation of viewers. And to fans of the series hoping to one day share their own stories with the world, Smith offers this advice…
“Live your life while you're trying to find your craft,” he says. “Because stories come from truth. The most honest, best stories told come from the truth.”