DreamWorks' 'HOME' Breaks Stereotypes With Young Black Girl in Hero Role

DreamWorks's newest animated movie HOME is pretty standard as far as kids' buddy comedies go, but with one major difference we love: The heroine -- voiced by Rihanna -- is a little black girl. And Gratuity "Tip" Tucci's tough. She's smart. She gets sad and angry and silly and happy. She's a little weird and doesn't always fit in, but that's okay. She's a wonderful role model for every kind of kid, and we're so excited to see her on the big screen.

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As far as big-time (read: mainstream) animated role models who look like them go, black girls are pretty much limited to the likes of Tiana from The Princess and the Frog and TV's Doc McStuffins. And these girls are great. We love them. We just need more of them for our daughters (and our sons) to see ... and that's where Tip comes in.

She is the first black lead of a 3D animated feature, and for an animated character, she's pretty real: She fusses with her hair, speaks with an accent, and delivers her lines with as much cheek as a real seventh grader would. She also recently moved to America from Barbados and had a hard time fitting in right away, which isn't too far off from Rihanna's own history.

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Rihanna told The Stir that it was important to her and to the animators to make Tip as realistic as possible.

"We were really, really careful -- especially with the animation and making sure that she wore the right things -- that her body was not unrealistic," the singer said. "We wanted girls to just feel strong and brave and empowered and beautiful and like they can do anything. And that they can take charge of their life or their situation no matter what."

It's honest and refreshing to see, especially when it feels like we don't get anything but rosy cheeks and hourglass figures in children's entertainment these days.

Representation is so, so important for young kids, and Tip is already making a difference:

Representation Matters.

A photo posted by Teyonah Parris (@teyonahparris) on

Tip's co-star in the film is Oh (voiced by The Big Bang Theory's Jim Parsons), a lovable alien from a species called the Boov. Oh is also a little bit weird, and since he likes to have "fun," he turns into an outcast among the passive and proudly bland Boov.

At the start of the film, Oh and the rest of the Boov did Earth favor and graciously invaded it, relocating all the humans to Australia in the process. But Tip manages to avoid their trap -- which leaves her stranded in the new Boov city and separated from her mother (voiced by Jennifer Lopez).

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Oh and Tip cross paths as they're both running from the city -- Oh to hide from the Boov boss Captain Smek (voiced by Steve Martin) after he ruffles one too many feathers, and Tip on her way to find her mother, wherever she might be.

The pair predictably team up and form a grudging friendship as they help each other out on their quests.

The movie is as cute and as fun as you'd expect from any DreamWorks animated film. It's probably not going to be sensation that How to Train Your Dragon or Shrek was for them, but it's a kids' flick with a solid message.

HOME tells them that your -- you guessed it -- home can be anywhere or anyone, and the best way to find it is to just be yourself.

"Embrace your freak," Jim Parsons said in his chat with The Stir. "Stay true to yourself and know that if you're running into people who think you're a real weirdo right now and seem to judge you, there's plenty of those who aren't."

Check out the trailer and tell us: What's home to you?

 

Image via DreamWorks Animation

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