Get ready to feel all kinds of 2000s nostalgia. The Proud Family returns with The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder, a continuation of the iconic Disney Channel series. This time around, the series is airing on Disney+, but it’s still The Proud Family you know and love. Penny Proud is still navigating life as a 14-year-old along with her Proud Family and friends.
When The Proud Family premiered in 2001, Kyla Pratt was just 14 years old, just like Penny. HollywoodLife spoke EXCLUSIVELY with Kyla, now 35, about stepping back into Penny’s shoes, the new take on the theme song, and how her two kids, Liyah and Lyric, love the show. Read our Q&A below:
Did you ever think, prior to knowing about this show, that you were ever going to play Penny Proud again?
Kyla Pratt: I did not. I think I hoped. There’s always been someone coming up to me and yelling at me about why we were not on the air anymore, and why did I do that? And I’m like, “I didn’t do it. Why are you yelling? I’ll tell ‘em to bring it back. I don’t have any control.” But knowing that people wanted this for so many years, I kind of hoped. I’m happy that it’s happening. I mean, to me, this was a show that was amazing. It didn’t shy away from certain topics like other people would. You have so many different people on the show, different types of people. Everybody, even as a teenage girl, no matter what you look like, you knew what Penny was going through. Everybody has some type of Sugar Mama that is crazy but has your back. Everybody has that Uncle Bobby who you don’t want to claim but you love. I think it’s just super relatable, and we talked about things, and now I feel like we’ve upgraded it so much, but it still has the same essence. I’m just excited for everybody to see.
When the original show ran, that was the early 2000s, which seems like another life ago. Now the show is in the 2020s and takes place in the current day. Talk to me a little bit about how the show has been updated to reflect the times that we’re in.
Kyla Pratt: So the show has been updated a lot. We have new characters that are coming in, we have a character Michael, who’s played by EJ Johnson. We have Keke Palmer as my new friend Maya. We have same-sex parents on the show. We discuss social media and the pressures of that for young kids. It’s exciting for me because I’m one of those people, I feel like people need to feel seen. Even as a young Black girl growing up, I didn’t realize that we didn’t have a cartoon about a Black family. When I was recording it, it was just like, “Oh, I just relate to these people so much. This is cool.” But I didn’t realize until later on how much of an impact it had on other people. I felt the same way about all representation. I feel like mentally it’s very helpful when you’re going through something, whether you’re a kid, a teenager, or an adult, to see someone on screen who either looks like you or acts like you or is going through the same things as you. I’m excited because 20 years ago I never would have thought somebody would say, “Oh, in 20 years we’re going to be louder.” I’d have been like, “We’re already loud. What are you talking about?” But, of course, with the times that we’re in now, we’re able to touch a lot of subjects that we didn’t really touch back then.
There are so many amazing guest stars in this new show like Gabrielle Union, Lena Waithe. Was there one that when you heard the news that you were like, “Oh, I am just over the moon excited?”
Kyla Pratt: I think the first person that comes to mind that I was super excited about was Tiffany Haddish. Because to me, who’s louder and prouder than me? I’m like, oh yeah, definitely Tiffany.
Tell me a little bit about your reaction when you heard this revamp on the theme song.
Kyla Pratt: I was very surprised. I feel like I’m a fan trying to wait and see when things are going to happen because they won’t tell me anything… I didn’t know that they were changing the theme song or that they were updating it. When I heard it, I was really excited. The original, of course, was so legendary. The new song has that same essence but brings it to now, brings it to 2022, and how you have to draw young people in is a lot through the music.
Fans are going to want to know if there’s going to be the possibility for more seasons down the road. Are you open to that?
Kyla Pratt: I’m definitely open to it. I’m hoping so. I feel like social media is the reason that we’ve gotten to this point. I feel like the more fans of the show stay engaged… I know they’re gonna love it. I’m hoping for the possibility. I think how well we did with this season, I’m just hoping and praying. My fingers are crossed.
You were 14 years old when you first started the original show. Seventeen years later, you’re in your 30s. Do you still find that you really relate to Penny a lot?
Kyla Pratt: I do. Because, honestly, I’ve been a teenage girl. It wasn’t hard to jump back into that. I’m raising girls at home. I have an 8-year-old and an 11-year-old. So it’s like, I’m able to see things from other characters’ perspectives now. It wasn’t hard to jump back into it because all I had to do was tap into my childhood.
Have they watched the original series?
Kyla Pratt: Yes, I actually played the DVD for them of The Proud Family Movie when they were much younger just to see if they recognized my voice. I didn’t have access to the episodes at that time. I think they’re on VHS in storage somewhere, but who has a VCR anymore? But then when Disney+ put the series on their app… they love it so much. My 8-year-old was playing the preview for this literally like 100 times and I was like, “Okay, I’m tired of hearing myself. Can we listen to something else, please?”