‘The Proud Family’ star Kyla Pratt has always been America’s sweetheart

Kyla Pratt was the definition of America’s sweetheart in the late 90s and 2000s for black millennials.

His early roles showed the multifaceted and expansive experiences of black youth. She had guts as tomboy Monica Calhoun in “Love and Basketball.” She showed us what it was like to fight back by coming of age as Breanna Barnes in “One on One.” And she affirmed us on “The Proud Family” when she said, “I’m Penny Proud, I’m cute and I’m loud, and it goes on.”

The 35-year-old is part of a canon of young actors, alongside Raven Symoné and Keke Palmer, who played pivotal roles in the early years of television helping black girls see themselves in the characters they embodied. In many ways, Pratt is the role model. The powers that make the most creative and innovative television today, including Issa Rae and Quinta Brunson, grew up watching Pratt. And those who were not yet standing on his shoulders.

Pratt, who began her acting career by appearing in Nike commercials at age 8, said she had no plans to make such a big impact. She just wanted to act. It just happened because of the types of roles she chose.

“My mom is an actress, so I loved watching her work and wanted to be like mom,” she said. “And literally everything I auditioned for, I was this young girl, I’d let you know if anything was too big for me.”

“I’ve just been very lucky to be part of projects that people still care about.”

Pratt’s distinct voice in South Los Angeles brings new life to his beloved animated character in a reboot, “The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder.” Nearly 20 years after the last episode aired, original creators Bruce W. Smith and Ralph Farquhar have relaunched the series to explore the life of a pubescent 14-year-old Penny Proud for a 10-episode season.

“The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder” premieres Wednesday on Disney+.

Along with Pratt, most of the hard-hitting original actors return: Tommy Davidson as Oscar Proud, Paula Jai ​​Parker as Trudy Proud, Jo Marie Payton as Suga Mama, and Karen Malina White as Dijonay Jones, to name a few. New cast members include Keke Palmer, EJ Johnson, and A Boogie, with occasional appearances from celebrities like Lizzo, Jaden Smith, and Lena Waithe, among others.

Pratt said she knows that in the age of reboots, bringing back a show can feel done, but with “The Proud Family,” it was just.

“I think knowing the situations we’ve had, the storylines we’ve had, and the people we’ve had working on the project, I never felt that way. I felt like they were about to kill him anyway,” she said.

“Just to be able to be a part of it and bring so many people back, and so easily,” Pratt continued. “And to have so many people who are in this entertainment industry now who want to be a part of it, even if it was just the guest star, is an incredible feeling. It shows you how important it was to people who came when we arrived.

The original series “The Proud Family” only aired for two seasons, with an accompanying film that premiered in 2005. Yet the series still carries significant weight in the canon of not only black television, but also animation. (It doesn’t hurt that the infectious original theme song was sung by Solange and Destiny’s Child.) It was a cartoon with cross-generational appeal, depicting black families, friendship, history, culture, and linguistics.

When Pratt auditioned to be the voice of Penny, it was her first voice acting job. “I remember walking in and seeing the cutout of the character, and I remember saying, ‘Oh, she kinda looks like me,'” she said. She ended up voicing Penny from age 14 to 17.

Pratt said she knows that in the age of reboots, bringing a show back can feel done, but with
Pratt said she knows that in the age of reboots, bringing back a show can feel done, but with “The Proud Family,” it was just.

Pratt told HuffPost that she didn’t realize the show’s effect until people started coming up to her and singing the show’s praises.

“I sat like, wait, there’s nothing on TV like that,” she explained. “To me it’s a family, it’s a dad, the mom is cool. You have a Suga Mama, who is crazy but who supports you no matter what; we all have an Uncle Bobbys who we sometimes claim .

She added, “I relate to it so much. I don’t even think recording what I was thinking, like, oh, this is going to be great and people are going to love it. I only realized afterwards how much of an impact it had on everyone and how much it shaped me as a young woman.

In addition to the “Proud Family” reboot, Pratt is currently co-starring in Fox’s “Call Me Kat.”

Her portrayal of Penny Proud, though spirited, was particularly significant. The show tackled taboo conversations around peer pressure, dating and more, often in imaginative ways. He provided a space for black children to just be children. Pratt said she hopes the conversations explored in “Louder and Prouder” offer something similar to children today.

“I’m so excited that a new generation can enjoy what we had back then as well,” she said. “And then we can also go back and come back into that space of being 10, 11, 12, and take ourselves to that area where we first looked at it.”

“The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder” will premiere on Disney+ on February 23.


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