On a recent appearance on the Pride podcast Raven-Symoné explained why she declined Disney making her character Raven Baxter a lesbian on “Ravens home” which premiered in 2017, reboot of her show “That’s so Raven” which was on Disney channel from 2003 to 2007.
“Raven’s Home” details Raven Baxter’s life living with her divorced best friend Chelsea, a character from the original Disney Channel original show, and played by Anneliese van der Pol. The two live together in a Chicago home, where the two single women are raising their children together.
“There was a conversation before the series started, and I was asked the question ‘Would you like Raven Baxter to be a lesbian?’ And I said no.” Symoné went on to express the rejection wasn’t because she was ashamed, as she had come out in 2013, six years after to "That's So Raven's" end, but that she wanted to keep her real life and the life of Raven Baxter separate.
“The reason I said no wasn’t because I wasn’t proud of who I was, or I didn’t want to represent the LGBTQ community in anyway. It’s because Raven Baxter is Raven Baxter is Raven Baxter.” She continued “Raven Baxter is a character I was proud to play, even if she is straight, cisgender, I don’t mind. Let her have her moment.” Despite Symoné being okay with Raven being cisgender, she had no problem putting her foot down and saying “no boyfriends” for Raven in the show.
She also admitted that her hesitation in making Raven Baxter a lesbian that her “blending” her personal self with her character self, it would be harder for her career. “If you ever see me in another character, you see Raven Baxter and that’s just what the deal is. And I think the one thing that differentiates me from her is now more.”
Although she was comfortable in differentiating her character from her sexuality now, she says that she may have “blended” it with her character earlier on in “That’s so Raven” if she had been given the chance and been more comfortable with her identity.
“At the same time, I was mad at myself because I could have embraced who I was a lot earlier and made it a part of the conversation to kind of spearhead the whole diversity push,” she said. “But again, during that time of the different sitcoms when I was younger and the first installment of the Raven Baxter character, you know, the talk of my personal life was never something that was allowed or comfortable to talk about. But it feels good to be able to do it now.”
This would’ve been natural for the sitcom “That’s So Raven” as the how not only starred a black teenage girl and fully black family, a rare occurrence on the Disney Channel at that time, but also had episodes that centered around the racism that a young black woman would face (“True Colors”), as well as facing issues such as respecting other cultures (“The Royal Treatment”) and body shaming/positivity (“That’s So Not Raven”).
Raven’s Home finished its fourth season in May 2021 and can be watched on The Disney Channel and Disney+.
The Pride Podcast can be listened to on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. You can listen to Raven's episode below: