Disney is under fire since news broke that Kiara Muhammad, who voiced the titular character on the popular Doc McStuffins cartoon from 2012-2015, is suing Disney for unfairly compensating her.
The lawsuit, which was filed on Tuesday, Oct. 11 with Los Angeles County Superior Court, alleges that Disney has not been paying Muhammad 2.5 percent of the merchandise revenue like they should be. Additionally, Disney only offered daily contracts with single-day recording sessions. After each day, the contract would be terminated, with a new one-day contract at her next recording session. The complaint goes on to state that Disney continued to do this, despite the fact that Muhammad and her parents tried on multiple occasions to propose contracts lasting more than one day.
As widely popular and lucrative as this show and the merchandise is, Disney could owe Muhammad a large amount of cash.
Man if they promised 2.5% of toys with her voice they owe her serious money https://t.co/Z1Vzw1HKLZ
— MonsterKing (@CerromeRussell) October 12, 2016
This is not the first time the popular show — which features a young Black girl as the doctor to stuffed toys, and her Black mother who is a medical doctor — has made headlines.
Back in July, stand-up comic and television host W. Kamau Bell started a movement on Twitter to make sure Doc McStuffins was renewed for an additional (fifth) season. He tweeted, “Seriously, if you love #DocMcStuffins as much as my family, tell @DisneyJunior to #RenewDocMcStuffins!”
The responses were swift and supportive, with many of them echoing the importance of representation for Black children in the cartoons available to them.
Hey @DisneyJunior it’s important that my little girls can see someone who looks like them doing something positive. #RenewDocMcStuffins
— Doyin Richards (@daddydoinwork) July 2, 2016
Because a Black girl starring in a cartoon is still revolutionary in 2016. And that Black girl being a doctor? More. #RenewDocMcStuffins
— C.E. Little (@ItsMrLittle) July 2, 2016
#DocMcStuffins keeps my daughter believing she can be anything and that there are no limits to a child’s imagination #renewDocMcStuffins
— Darryl Frierson (@Diggame) July 2, 2016
The fact that this young Black girl had an episode where she met the country’s first Black first lady (and Michelle Obama guest starred in the episode) shows this is an important show, Bell tweeted.
Is #DocMcStuffins an important show? Well, here she is hanging w/ @FLOTUS! @DisneyJunior #RenewDocMcStuffins! pic.twitter.com/5PBhSbaV6j
— W. Kamau Bell (@wkamaubell) July 2, 2016
After Bell started a cavalry to renew the show, the responses — which came from Disney Junior’s twitter page, Disney themselves, and the show’s creator — left much to be desired.
“Wow – thanks for all the love and cuddles! As long as there are toys to fix, the Doc will be in!” — #DocMcStuffins pic.twitter.com/ldotHfruNG
— Disney Junior (@DisneyJunior) July 3, 2016
The show’s creator, Chris Nee, also found herself in the fray, tweeting out that she was “excited” about the stories in season four that the audience had yet to see, as well as her admiration for the character, saying, “Creating Doc McStuffins has been the greatest joy of my life.”
But in addition to the excitement she had for her show and its not-set-in-stone future, Nee also tweeted about the uncertainty.
(2/2) If/When Season 5 picked up, I’ll sure let you know. The writing staff can’t wait to get going on more stories. We love Doc!
— Chris Nee (@chrisdocnee) July 3, 2016
In a statement to The Huffington Post, a spokesperson for Disney said, “We have a long term content plan in place and are in production on season four which will deliver new episodes through late 2017/early 2018.” They continued, “We will make a determination about going beyond this number of episodes at the appropriate time during the production process.”
The tweets from Nee, Disney Junior and the statement from a Disney spokesperson — much like the allegations in Muhammad’s complaint — make Disney look quite questionable for their treatment surrounding the show that has been called revolutionary and progressive.
Parents who see the importance of representation can also see their children in the character.
Lorraine Mason, a Texas mom, said, “Doc McStuffins is of course important for Black girls because it shows Black women as doctors. But, the show also combats the ‘angry Black women’ stereotype by showing a Black girl who is kind as well as intelligent.”
She continued, “It’s important for my daughter to see herself as a Black girl in Doc McStuffins, not only as an intelligent girl, but a compassionate one.”
Disney has yet to comment on the lawsuit.