The word “strength” came up multiple times at the 2021 New York Comic Con’s “The Badass Women of The Walking Dead” panel. That strength manifests in different ways for the women who play a range of complex female characters on the series, but one thing everyone shared was a love of the character Princess, introduced in the flagship series’ 10th season.
Yvette Nicole Brown moderated a virtual panel with women from all three of The Walking Dead universe’s current series: Aliyah Royale (The Walking Dead: World Beyond), Angela Kang (The Walking Dead showrunner), Karen David (Fear The Walking Dead), Paola Lázaro (The Walking Dead), Alexa Mansour (The Walking Dead: World Beyond), Jenna Elfman (Fear The Walking Dead), Lauren Cohan (The Walking Dead), Denise Huth (The Walking Dead producer), Christine Evangelista (Fear The Walking Dead), Julia Ormond (The Walking Dead: World Beyond) and Annet Mahendru (The Walking Dead: World Beyond).
One thing the whole panel could agree with was how much they all loved Princess, the relative newcomer who started as a comic book fan favorite and has exceeded expectations.
“I’m gonna jump in here before somebody steals Princess,” said Cohan, when asked by Brown what other character she would love to play besides her own. “In so many years on this show, Paola portrays one of my favorite characters we’ve ever had. You think when you get this far you’re not going to have someone this bright, optimistic, happy, new, and she does such a good job. She’s so bright. She’s so funny. The way you fumble and stumble and fall in love and say the wrong thing? I can’t imagine anyone else making that natural.”
Julia Ormond jumped in with the praise. “It’s a super brave performance. When you have a character like that you have so many colors. Your costume is colorful. The character is colorful.”
It would be very easy for a character like Princess to stand out so much in the grim dark universe of The Walking Dead that it’s distracting. But when Princess stands out, you can’t help but love her for it. It’s also, per the theme of the panel, always nice to see a badass female character who hasn’t necessarily eschewed all femininity in lieu of a more traditionally male hard exterior. As much as we love to see characters like Maggie and Carol become cowboys, The Walking Dead doesn’t value any expression of femininity over another — especially now that there are two spin-offs with even more characters.
“I fell in love with her because of how vulnerable she is,” Lázaro said. The actress noted that, much like Princess, she got in trouble when she was younger for speaking her mind with no filter and standing up for what she thought was right. When she was cast, she said at the end of the panel she messaged the writers and asked if Princess could be Puerto Rican like herself instead of Mexican American as she’s written in the comics. “There’s already a Mexican American character who is fantastic and super strong — which is Rosita. I want to represent other Hispanic people.” The writers agreed, and not only does Lázaro get to bring a little more of herself into the character, but she just gets to exist as a Puerto Rican character on television without constantly reminding the audience who she is.
“There is no one on this planet who could have played Princess better,” Brown said later on in the panel, bringing things back around to this character. “Princess is beloved.”