Nala graces The Disney Princess Series as the first non-anthropomorphic or human female character. However, this by no means lessens her impact in the Disney Universe. Hers is the good female constant that runs throughout the entire Lion King. The film is choc-a-bloc with male characters, we follow Nala’s story at the same time as Simba’s – and beyond. Even as her best friend is in exile and evil Scar takes over she is a constant force of resistance, a reminder of the good old world. Even if we briefly look at her role in the second Lion King movie she is once again a kind mother and character in general, trusting Kovu and not at all playing the overbearing parent to Kiara.
More than that, she’s an adventurous and strong character, persistent in her search for food and help. Her loyalty to her family and home is unwavering in her hope to have Pride Rock restored. Whilst a secondary character her actions in the plot are crucial; without her, Simba would not have come home. Her act of solidarity helped Simba in his final battle with Scar. This makes it unsurprising that in the musical her role is expanded to give her a more active role.
Of course, it seems obvious to say that her status as an animal would automatically exclude her from the Disney Princess line-up, but lets not forget her strength as a character. As one of the few female characters in the film she is given an active and subtly important role throughout, which makes her one of the more interesting yet forgotten female characters from the Disney Renaissance period.