Mekia Cox – Once Upon a Time
By: Dana Jacoviello
Q) What attracted you do the role of Tiana on “Once Upon A Time?”
A) This character is very near and dear to me, and if you know a little bit about my background then you understand why. I grew up in Orlando, Florida, and had my first professional job at age seven dancing at Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. I always wanted to be able to play a Disney character having grown up around Disney and having watched Disney movies all my life. However, at the time, being an African-American girl, there were no characters for me to play. When The Princess and the Frog finally came out I was overjoyed knowing that some little girl who looked like me’s dream of being a Disney Princess could actually come true. Needless to say, once I found out I’d be playing the role of Tiana in “Once Upon a Time,” I was quite excited.
Q) What was your reaction when you found out that you had not only got the role of Tiana as a reoccurring character, but that you were upgraded to a series regular?
A) I was ecstatic. I mean I was just so happy to be joining a great show with a great cast and a great fan base. I couldn’t have been happier.
Q) They are beginning to make role powerful roles for women on television, and on “Once Upon A Time” they certainly represent that well by taking female characters and making them resilient and strong rather than damsels in distress as they have been portrayed in the past. Why do you feel it is essential to show this portrayal of these characters in such a way that many are not used to?
A) It’s time! There is an uprising happening with women right now, whether it’s marching on behalf of women’s rights or sharing our stories with the #metoo phenomenon that’s currently happening. Women are coming into their own and realizing we can be strong and we can be leaders and we can stand up for ourselves. I think that’s mirrored in what Eddy [Kitsis] and Adam [Horowitz], the show creators, are doing with “OUAT.” We have a strength that’s totally different than men, but just as vital. But don’t think that we can’t also pick up a sword and know exactly how to use it! I love that little girls and women get to see these iconic characters doing just that.
Q) How has it been on set thus far working with the “Once Upon A Time” with such an incredible cast of individuals?
A) I love these people. I really do. I’ve joined an amazing cast of phenomenal actors and an amazing crew and I am genuinely excited to go into work every day.
Q) Do you have any ideas of where you would like to see Tiana’s character go in the series, or anything you can share that we can look forward to?
A) I can tell you that Sabine does chase her dreams of one day owning a restaurant and my hopes are that she eventually catches them!
Q) If you could play any other female character on “Once Upon A Time,” who would it be?
A) Evil Queen, hands down. [laughs]
Q) Obviously this role is very different compared to your last role on “Chicago Med.” In what ways do you find that playing the role of Tiana is more challenging compared to others roles you have portrayed in the past?
A) Sword fighting in a ball gown is definitely challenging! [laughs] Honestly though, this show might have the most interesting locations like the woods, for example. Having to say your lines and trudge through mud with heels on and a sword in hand while bugs fly at your face can be fairly challenging and that’s definitely not something I’ve done in ANY of my other roles.
Q) Did you do anything specific or special to prepare for the role of Tiana?
A) Well, of course, I went back and watched the movie, which was honestly just an excuse for me to watch the movie again. However, what’s interesting about this show is you’re constantly learning about what each character’s backstory is as each new script comes out. I realized that I had to give up my normal process of character creation as an actor and just fully trust in Adam and Eddy’s vision for the role.
Q) Are there any characteristics of Tiana that you can relate to your own personality?
A) Sabine is me. Honestly, she’s the closest character to me I think I’ve ever played. She’s an eternal optimist. She’s carefree in certain aspects, yet super attentive in others. She has a deep love for her friends and loved ones and she’s driven in the same way that I am. I really enjoy playing her, but it’s also fairly easy to play her because I see so much of myself in her.
Q) Have you seen any surge on your Twitter of positive responses in regards to Tiana and any impact she has been having on fans?
A) I have been genuinely surprised with the fan reactions. People have been so kind and so supportive. It honestly means a lot to me and I am super thankful to be a part of this world.
Q) Do you feel any pressure at all knowing that so many young fans might possibly be impacted by your role of Tiana?
A) Of course, I do! Tiana is such a beloved character because of the Disney movie. I really wanted to make sure I did her justice and I knew I had big shoes to fill after the amazing and wonderfully talented Anika Noni Rose did such a fantastic job originating the role.
Q) What would you like to say to everyone who is a fan and supporter of all of your work?
A) Thank you so, so, so much for all of your support. Honestly, you don’t know how much it helps. In a career where you often hear “no” more than “yes,” it’s nice to know that you have people that enjoy your work and will continue to support you.