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Anneliese Van Der Pol Claims 'Racism' Played a Part in Initial 'That's So Raven' Casting

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Apr. 26 2023, Published 2:30 p.m. ET

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Anneliese van der Pol just dropped a huge bombshell about the casting process for That's So Raven.

During the former Disney Channel star's Tuesday, April 25, appearance on Christy Carlson Romano's “Vulnerable” podcast, van der Pol — who played friend Chelsea Daniels on the hit series — revealed the show was originally not centered around Raven-Symoné.

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“It wasn’t called That’s So Raven at all," she explained about going into the first audition. “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. I auditioned and a couple other people auditioned. I didn't get the part — somebody else got the part."

The 38-year-old explained that The Cheetah Girls alum was originally taking on the best friend role until the casting directors saw just how talented she was. “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 noted.

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“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," she said of the series that made the former The View cohost a star.

When the Even Stevens alum pressed her about the statement, she emphasized, "Yeah, they saw her as a sidekick."

Romano — who also got her start on the successful children's network — added about the company, "With Disney, it's like, it's not personal, it's business."

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The hit television show ran from 2003 to 2007, focusing on Symoné and her two best friends — played by van der Pol and Orlando Brown — as she navigated the ups and downs of high school and her unique psychic abilities.

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