James is Tiana's father in Disney's 2009 animated feature film, The Princess and the Frog. He was a hard-working family man whose dream was to have his own restaurant. Being a loving man, James took very good care of his family.
James' dream was for his family to own a restaurant and share their passion for food. However, as Dr. Facilier's vision showed Tiana, life was difficult for him and he was unable to save up for his dream restaurant. To provide for his family, James worked double, sometimes triple shifts at his job, leaving him fatigued. However, he never once let it show to his daughter or his wife, always greeting them with a smile and enthusiastically providing encouraging words.
Although he almost never got what he wanted, he was a happy man, because he had what he needed, such as love, and never lost sight of what was really important. He gave Tiana practical advice about working hard that she took very seriously. He also made her promise that she would never lose sight of anything important either.
James was pressed into service and fought in World War I when the United States was provoked into joining the war. At some point, James was killed in action (K.I.A.) during the war, so he never got to see Tiana get her restaurant. As shown briefly in the film, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (given for extreme gallantry and risk of life in actual combat with an armed enemy force).
Role in the film
James is first seen when Eudora takes Tiana home. Tiana stirs a pot of gumbo, to which she adds a bit of Tabasco sauce for extra flavor. Her father also tastes the gumbo and is very satisfied with its taste, so Tiana invites the neighbors over for gumbo, which they all enjoy. James explains to his daughter that whenever food tastes good, it brings happiness to many people. He then adds that when he opens up his own restaurant, he will attract more people to taste his food just as Tiana did with the gumbo. He also writes on his restaurant poster, “Tiana’s Place” and lets Tiana hold onto it. When Tiana looks up at Evangeline, she tells James that Charlotte’s book says when you wish upon a star, it’s sure to come true. James then explains to his daughter that wishing on the stars is very good, but it can only take her part way to her dream as she also has to work hard to help make it come true. Before putting Tiana to bed, James tells her that she should never forget that her father will always be with her and makes her promise that she'll never ever lose sight of what is really important, then he and Eudora go to bed.
Years later, as an adult, Tiana has put the poster of her father's restaurant next to a framed photo of her late father in a military uniform, as a reminder that he will always be with her. James later appears in two flashbacks: during the musical number "Dig a Little Deeper" where he is seen in Mama Odie's enchanted gumbo pot, and during Tiana's confrontation of Dr. Facilier where she explains that her father never got the restaurant he wanted, but he had what he truly needed and never lost sight of what was really important which led to Tiana destroying Facilier's Talisman and thus, ending his villainous plot for good. James' dream of a restaurant finally came true after Tiana and her new husband Naveen gathered the necessary money to buy the property from the Fenner Brothers. A picture of him with Tiana and Eudora is also seen on the menu Eudora reads during the grand opening of the restaurant.
- James' voice actor Terrence Howard, played James "Rhodey" Rhodes/War Machine in the very first Iron Man film.
- James is the third father of a Disney Princess to be deceased; the first being The First King (Snow White's father) and the second being Cinderella's Father. He is also the first deceased Disney Princess father who’s wife is not deceased.