• BHM2023 badge
  • Killing It Comedy badge
  • Black Is You, Black Is Me badge

I Genuinely Can't Watch "That's So Raven" The Same Way Again After Reading These Behind-The-Scenes Facts

The success of the That's So Raven and Even Stevens musical episodes gave Disney Channel executives the idea to develop a musical original movie: High School Musical.

1. First, when That's So Raven premiered on Disney Channel in 2003, Raven-Symoné was the youngest and first Black woman to have her real name in a comedy series title.

2. Originally, the series was called Absolutely Psychic and Raven-Symoné was actually cast as the best friend, not the psychic, who was the main character. Then, the show changed over to That's So Raven, with Raven playing the lead.

raven sitting for show promo shots

3. During the test screening for Absolutely Psychic, the audience connected with Raven-Symoné so much that the show pivoted to make her the lead actor. The script was rewritten, Raven changed roles, and the lead character was given the name Raven.

closeup of raven's show promo shot

4. Anneliese van der Pol didn't originally get the role of Chelsea. However, Raven told the people in the casting room that she'd "rather play best friends" with Anneliese.

chelsea: don't scare him because you know what pigeons do when they're scared. Raven: get it off my head, chelsea, get it off my head

5. When developing That's So Raven, the goal was to have a show "that would allow a girl to do [comedy] that would appeal to boys and girls and their families." The message behind the show was that it's okay for a girl to be funny, which was rarely shown on TV at the time.

raven and her friends dressed up and talking to a guy in a suit asking if they know who she is, does he watch tv, does he carry a lunchbox

6. Alongside the importance of depicting a Black family on TV, That's So Raven also wanted to portray realistic family situations. "It's not about perfect, it’s not about Pollyanna or Father Knows Best," Rich Ross, former president of entertainment at Disney Channel, said in a 2003 interview. "It’s about realistic situations that can yield comedy, can yield drama, excitement, and pathos, and at the end of the day, a kid looks at it and goes, 'I get it. I see me there.'"

raven and her show family

7. One of Anneliese's favorite episodes was "Soup to Nuts" from Season 4, where they paid homage to I Love Lucy. Anneliese explained she grew up loving I Love Lucy and thought it was fun to honor Lucille Ball and the show in this way.

raven and the cast dressed up as i love lucy characters

8. Meanwhile, Raven adored the musical episode, titled "The Road to Audition," from Season 2. She said at the time a lot of people didn't realize Anneliese was a Broadway star and Orlando sang R&B and soul music.

raven and her girlfriends strutting in the halls, and cory in the gym dancing with basketballs

9. Debbie Allen directed the iconic That's So Raven musical episode. "I had been auditioning for musical theater and for Debbie Allen for so long, so to have finally been able to work with her on that episode was an honor," Anneliese recalled.

debbie allen and corey in the hallway

10. The That's So Raven musical episode was written after Disney Channel saw the success of the Even Stevens episode "Influenza: The Musical." In fact, the success of the That's So Raven and Even Stevens musical episodes was one of the reasons Disney Channel developed High School Musical, which became one of their highest-rated original movies.

chelsea and a group of dancers doing broadway in the hallway

11. That's So Raven was Disney Channel's first original multi-camera production. Prior to this show, Disney Channel saw a lot of success with single-camera comedies, like Lizzie McGuire and Even Stevens.

raven in a mariachi suit

12. While starring in That's So Raven, T'Keyah Crystal Keymáh was caring for her grandmother who had Alzheimer's disease. She actually had "retired" from acting after finishing Cosby, but realized caring for her grandmother would require money, so she decided to do That's So Raven.

T'Keyah Crystal Keymáh and Raven in the show

13. In fact, when she started the show, T'Keyah only agreed to three seasons, which was the typical length for a Disney Channel series at the time. So when the show was renewed for a fourth season, T'Keyah stepped away from the series to take care of her grandmother full-time, which is why Tanya went to England.

Tanya talking to Raven's little brother on the show

14. Due to all of the physical comedy on the show, a stunt coordinator would break down everything for Raven prior to shooting. "The challenge is not to laugh on the set. That's the main thing I have a problem with," Raven said in a 2003 interview when talking about the physical comedy.

raven with huge cheeks standing next to a tv with her on it

15. The scenes from the pilot where Raven pretends to be her mom for a parent-teacher conference were what impressed Disney Channel executives with how great Raven-Symoné is at comedy.

raven dressed like an older woman with a skirt suit and hat

16. That's So Raven was the first Disney Channel series to reach 100 total episodes. Now, the spinoff, Raven's Home, has also reached 100 episodes, meaning Raven-Symoné has played Raven Baxter for 200 episodes and counting.

cast of raven's home

17. For Cory's birthday party episode, where Raven runs around with an iguana and a snake, Raven-Symoné didn't know she would actually have to hold a snake. "I was actually scared, and I will forever be scarred," she recalled in a 2017 interview with BuzzFeed.

raven with a large snake around her neck

18. Raven-Symoné and her dad helped come up with Raven's iconic "vision face." It was "a work in progress for a while," according to Raven, but once they nailed it down it became "real easy and simple."

raven staring at the camera

19. The filming for a typical episode took place over the course of a week. Read-throughs and rewrites of a script would happen early in the week, followed by rehearsals and tapings in front of an audience on a soundstage.

raven with directors

20. Also, to accommodate the young cast's school schedules, That's So Raven would typically film two days a week. After filming wrapped, the episodes were edited weekly as well.

raven with her best friends in the hallway

21. The writing on That's So Raven was so important that the actors were typically not allowed to "veer from the script" due to the fact that it was a Disney show, according to Anneliese. However, Raven was able to improvise comedic bits, especially when she was in one of Raven Baxter's hilarious disguises, and she would ad-lib a few "Ya nasty" and "Oh snap" lines.

raven singing and holding an iguana and changing the lyrics to, peeing iguana

22. While Raven initially turned down the opportunity to direct an episode of That's So Raven, she has since directed 10 episodes of Raven's Home so far. At the time, Raven turned down the chance to direct because she felt it would be "a huge responsibility" on top of already leading the series.

raven and her best friends

23. Raven became a producer on That's So Raven during Season 4, when she was only 20 years old. Her role as a producer included taking meetings on special effects and getting involved with casting and script notes.

raven speaking into a mic

24. All of the costumes on That's So Raven were designed by costume designer Nancy Butts Martin. All of the pieces were purchased, rented, or created by Nancy, and even the purchased items were tweaked slightly to be totally unique and original for the show.

raven talking to models during the show saying, in case you haven't noticed people come in all shapes and sizes and they're all beautiful

25. In fact, Nancy Butts Martin developed such a strong relationship working with Raven on the original series that she is now the costume designer on Raven's Home.

26. One of the hardest episodes to film for Raven was "Country Cousins" in Season 3, where she played a grandmother, a father, a baby, and Raven Baxter.

raven in all the different costumes

27. Cory's in the House was Disney Channel's first spinoff series, and it debuted after That's So Raven ended in 2007. Since Cory's in the House, there have been several other Disney spinoff shows, like The Suite Life on Deck, Bunk'd, and more.

corey and his parents

28. Prior to Raven's Home officially starting production, Raven returned to Disney Channel and said she wanted to learn more about directing and producing, and they were willing to teach her. She was able to "start at the beginning of a show and learn about how the set is brought together and how to hire the right people, and see what the writers were like, and really be a part of casting."

closeup of raven currently

29. For Raven's Home, Disney expressed interest in making Raven Baxter queer, however, Raven "didn't feel comfortable doing that." She explained that Raven Baxter "never exhibited any type of sexual identity situation in the priors."

raven in raven's home

30. When deciding to do Raven's Home, Raven said she and Anneliese van der Pol worked really hard to make sure parents could relate to the adult characters on the show. They wanted to make it a true family sitcom, where people who grew up with That's So Raven could also enjoy it.

raven and chelsea spying from the door

31. And finally, That's So Raven was nominated for two Emmy Awards for Outstanding Children's Programming in 2005 and 2007.

raven in her family

Black History Month is here! Join us from Feb. 1 to Feb. 28 (or all year round) and support our content celebrating the culture.