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‘Princess Power’: Where ‘Princess’ is a Verb, not a Noun

Showrunner and Executive Producer Elise Allen discusses her new preschool series and its core messages of inclusivity, diversity, community, teamwork, and friendship; based on the New York Times Bestselling book series ‘Princesses Wear Pants’ by ‘Today’ anchor Savannah Guthrie and Allison Oppenheim, the show is now streaming on Netflix. 

In addition to the loads of whimsy, fun, adventure, humor, and artistry found in the New York Times Bestselling book series Princesses Wear Pants, children's television writer and producer Elise Allen says she was most of all drawn to the messages of female empowerment that authors Savannah Guthrie and Allison Oppenheim wove into their popular princess stories.  

“The books portray princesses as active members of their communities who work together to make a difference,” says Allen, known for her series Rainbow Rangers, as well as Gabby’s Dollhouse and Rainbow High. “I came away from the books with one thought ringing out above all others: ‘Princess is a verb; princesses do things to help people.’ That became the North Star for the television series.”

Princess Power, now streaming on Netflix, follows the princesses of four Fruitdoms: Kira Kiwi, Beatrice “Bea” Blueberry, Rita Raspberry, and Penelope “Penny” Pineapple. They embrace their differences with enthusiasm, happily support one another, and eagerly jump into action to help their fellow Fruitizens and make their world a better place. Whether it’s saving beached whales or wrangling runaway Ferris wheels, the princesses pinkie-tea promise to help those in need.

The show’s high-energy, aspirational, and musically buoyed joy also delivers an impactful message: it’s not what you wear but what you do that makes all the difference. Developed by showrunner and EP Allen, the series is executive produced by Guthrie, alongside Matthew Berkowitz, Kristin Cummings, and Jennifer Twiner McCarron of Atomic Cartoons, as well as Drew Barrymore, Ember Truesdell, Chris Miller, and Nancy Juvonen of Flower Films.

“We specifically made sure our four main princesses came from different kinds of families, from Bea’s loving relationship with her two dads to Penny being raised by her great-aunt,” notes Allen. “In addition, we showcase characters with different abilities, like Sena, from Episode 13 (“Princess Soccer Spectacular”), who’s blind, and Bea herself who wears a leg brace. Sometimes we comment on these differences, but more often we don’t. Our goal is to have inclusivity modeled as something that just is, and we want to showcase a world where it’s a given that people will come together across lines of difference.”

Allen describes Princess Power as a show that teaches by example, not by lecture. For many years, especially when creators in animation started to become more intentional about weaving diversity and inclusivity into their television shows, the characters’ “differences” were specifically spotlighted or talked about in-depth. Though there are plenty of conversations that are important to have about people’s differences, Allen wants to help build a world – through the entertaining animated world she’s developed – where differences are a given, not only not getting in the way of friendships, but actually enhancing them. 

“Penny, Bea, Kira, and Rita are there for one another no matter what, even when they disagree,” says Allen. “We also model honest friendship, and when the princesses see one of the group making a truly wrongheaded decision, they say so, always coming from a place of kindness and empathy.”

Being able to appreciate differences and practice open and honest communication are key lessons for growing kids, but they are also attributes of successful changemakers who wish to serve their communities. 

“These princesses are kids, and they always step up to make a difference in their communities,” says Allen. “We hope that empowers viewers to feel like they can ‘princess’ too, in their own ways, and make their world a better place. I hope our stories inspire a view of the world that’s filled with joy, optimism, and a sense of fun, where, yes, there are problems, but those problems can be solved when you think outside the box and work together to achieve what no one person could accomplish on their own.”

Allen adds, “There are so many messages we were eager to convey through Princess Power, and it’s a credit to literally every person on the team that I feel we did so successfully and without ever being overly heavy-handed.”

The whole “show-don’t-tell” philosophy that Allen had for getting the series’ messages across also meant there was an elevated responsibility to get the visual, animated diversity right in the show. 

“To me, the level of animation in Princess Power breaks boundaries in terms of what can be done in TV animation,” shares Allen. “This started from the show’s earliest days, when our incredible art director, Sarah Marino, created gorgeously ambitious designs for our Fruitdoms and characters.”

She continues, “Since we wanted to be extremely mindful of the different cultures we were representing on screen, Sarah and her team took great care to achieve incredible specificity in everything from architectural shape language to every character’s hair texture. But that was only the beginning. To translate all those remarkable designs into 3D animation that could move and function on screen was a major undertaking. Add to that the challenge of two main characters – Miss Fussywiggles and Mr. Scrumples – covered in fur, plus the added challenge of massive water interaction since our princesses live on fruit islands, I genuinely am in awe of every single member of the team that brought this show to life.”

While the world of Princess Power, obviously, is a work of fantastical fiction, the Fruitdoms are each rooted in a specific, real-world place. 

“This wasn’t handled lightly,” notes Allen. “Buildings and clothing styles, every choice was made with great care and respect, and the Princess Power team worked closely with the amazing Aya Taveras at Perception Institute for added input and insight. Collaborating with our incredible teams of writers, designers, board artists, directors, animators, editors, composers, executives, the production team, every person involved with the show brought their passion and ideas, and plussed out Princess Power to something that’s as much of a group effort as the princesses’ missions on the show.”

Collaboration lies at the very heart of animation, but making sure a show about Fruitizen-governing kid princesses also accurately reflects honest social experiences and cultural diversity requires a special amount of idea sharing, whether from team members or outside consultants. And, despite the hefty amount of work, Allen says it was one of her favorite parts about working on the show. 

“The most rewarding part of the Princess Power experience was living out behind the scenes what we’re trying to showcase on screen,” says Allen. “I hope we inspire other creators to continue normalizing things like different pronoun choices, and all different kinds of loving, affectionate families. I hope the content of the show inspires viewers who are young creatives to embrace collaboration across lines of difference, and work through complications with a spirit of kindness and compassion.”

Allen also hopes the show provides empowerment for more than just young girl viewers.

“For a long time – and I’m going back to animation I watched when I was growing up – it seemed like there was a sense in the industry that girls would watch boys on screen, but boys wouldn’t watch girls,” remembers Allen. “That led to ensemble shows with one or maybe two token girls in a sea of boys. That’s challenging, because if you have one girl in the ensemble, she has to stand for all girls, so she can’t be flawed and she ends up less interesting. Princess Power has an ensemble of diverse, unique, fully three-dimensional girls with the freedom to be flawed and funny and fallible and real. So, I hope we prove that you can have an ensemble of main characters who are all girls, and still attract viewers of all genders.”

It’s all in an effort, Allen states, to tell young kids that anyone and everyone can “princess” and change the world for the better by “tapping into your own ingenuity, embracing who you are, and facing the world with joy.”

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Victoria Davis is a full-time, freelance journalist and part-time Otaku with an affinity for all things anime. She's reported on numerous stories from activist news to entertainment. Find more about her work at