Anneliese van der Pol, who portrayed Chelsea Daniels in Disney Channel’s That’s So Raven, has claimed the beloved show’s production team was racist during the initial casting.
During her interview on the Vulnerable podcast, the 38-year-old claimed Raven-Symoné, the star of the show, was originally cast in a supporting role. The show was titled Absolutely Psychic before it got its official name and Raven was seen as the “sidekick” while the producer’s were searching for a lead.
“When I went in to audition, the show was called Absolutely Psychic,” Pol said. “It wasn’t called That’s So Raven at all. At the time, Raven wasn’t the lead. She was the sidekick. They were looking for a lead and I came in to audition for the lead. I think the character’s name was Molly.”
The production team eventually saw Raven’s talent and bumped her up into the lead role, which Pol attributed to racism since the producers couldn’t see a black girl take on the lead role.
“When they filmed, they realized Raven was the funniest one and had a following, and so they bumped her up to first position, and then they started auditioning people again,” van der Pol explained. “I think that was kind of, like, racism at a low level — I guess if that’s even a possibility. They couldn’t really see a black girl leading a show. They only saw her as a sidekick.”
That’s So Raven became a Disney Channel staple running for four seasons from 2003 to 2007. It received two Emmy nominations and received a sequel in 2017 titled Raven’s Home, which follows Symoné and van der Pol navigating through motherhood.