The 2000 Disney Channel Original Movie The Color of Friendship, directed by Kevin Hooks, is now available on Disney Plus. It explores the true story of two girls—one from apartheid South Africa and one from America—who learn from each other about tolerance and friendship. Mahree Bok, played by Lindsey Haun, is a white South African whose family supports and benefits from the system of apartheid.
When Mahree goes to America as an exchange student in 1977, she finds herself living with Piper Dellums, played by Shadia Simmons, and her African-American family—including her father, Congressman Ron Dellums, an outspoken critic of apartheid played by Carl Lumbly. As Mahree and Piper grow closer, their friendship is tested by the growing tension between apartheid and liberation. How will the two come to terms with their own and each others’ values? And what will happen when Mahree returns to South Africa? Watch The Color of Friendship online to find out, and read on in The Color of Friendship streaming guide to learn more about the true story behind the movie, what the critics think, and more.
Here’s how to stream The Color of Friendship right now:
How to Stream ‘The Color of Friendship’ – Exclusively on Disney+
The Color of Friendship is one of the classic Disney original movies that will be streaming exclusively on Disney’s new subscription streaming service, Disney+.
You can sign up for Disney+ HERE, which will allow you to stream The Color of Friendship and hundreds of other original movies and shows on your computer, phone, tablet, smart TV or streaming device. The service costs $6.99/month. You may also opt for this discount bundle of Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ for $12.99/month.
- 1. Sign up for Disney+ here
- 2. Go to Disneyplus.com or download the Disney+ app on your device
- 3. Log in using your information
- 4. Search for “The Color of Friendship”
- 5. Start streaming
Disney+ also boasts a vast library of Disney-owned movies and series — plus several new original series coming soon. The service includes unlimited downloads so you can watch offline whenever and wherever you want. The list of compatible devices and smart TVs includes Apple iOS devices, Apple TV, Amazon devices, Amazon Fire TV, Android, Chromecast, Roku, PS4, and Xbox One.
‘The Color of Friendship’: Overview
Release Date: February 5, 2000
Creators: Executive Producer Alan Sacks, Producers Kevin Hooks and Christopher Morgan, Writer Paris Qualles (who won the 2001 WGA Award: Children’s Script Category for this film)
Director: Kevin Hooks
Starring: Lindsey Haun, Shadia Simmons, Carl Lumbly, Penny Johnson Jerald
Synopsis: When a white student from apartheid South Africa goes to spend a school term in America with a black family whose father is a Congressman and outspoken critic of apartheid, the two girls learn important lessons about tolerance and friendship.
How Long Is ‘The Color of Friendship’?
The Color of Friendship is 87 minutes long.
‘The Color of Friendship’ Plot
Based on a true story, “Simunye,” written by the real-life Piper Dellums, the 2000 Disney Channel Original Movie The Color of Friendship explores the relationship of two girls—one from apartheid South Africa and one from America—who learn from each other about tolerance and friendship. Mahree Bok, played by Lindsey Haun, is a white South African whose wealthy family supports and benefits from the system of apartheid.
When Mahree goes to America as an exchange student in 1977, she expects to be placed with a white family. But she finds herself paired with Piper Dellums, played by Shadia Simmons, a black student in Washington, D.C., whose father, Congressman Ron Dellums (Carl Lumbly), is an outspoken critic of apartheid.
The relationship gets off to a difficult start—both girls are disappointed, and Ron is disgusted by Mahree’s views on apartheid. But Mahree and Piper begin to learn how much they have in common and eventually develop a close friendship. Mahree’s views on apartheid change, too, as she begins to understand what life must be like for people of color in apartheid South Africa.
When global anti-apartheid protests break out, their friendship is tested once more, but with Ron’s help the two reconcile and Mahree finally understands what the struggle for South African liberation is about. She returns to South Africa a changed person—now in support of the South African black liberation movement.
‘The Color of Friendship’ Cast
The Color of Friendship features actors who are well known for their roles in some major television series over the past four decades. Here are some of the main players.
Lindsey Haun as Mahree Bok
Actress Lindsey Haun stars as Mahree Bok, a white South African student who goes to America for a semester and finds herself in a difficult situation living with a black family that is outspokenly anti-apartheid. Haun’s credits also include Village of the Damned (1995), Shrooms (2007) and recurring roles on the televisions series True Blood and Such a Small World.
Shadia Simmons as Piper Dellums
Piper Dellums is the teenage host of exchange student Mahree and daughter of Congressman Ron Dellums, an outspoken critic of South African apartheid. Simmons is known for her roles in a number of television movies and series, including Life with Derek, Strange Days at Blake Holsey High, and Ace Lightening. She won the 2001 Young Artist Award: Best Performance in a TV Movie (Drama) – Leading Young Actress for The Color of Friendship.
Carl Lumbly as Ron Dellums
Ron Dellums is the father of Piper and a real-life former U.S. Congressman who was an outspoken critic of apartheid. Lumbly has more than 100 acting credits to his name since the late 1970s. He is known for his roles in numerous television series, including as Marcus Dixon in Alias, Mark Petrie in Cagney & Lacey, and in Supergirl, Justice League and Justice League Unlimited.
Penny Johnson Jerald (as Penny Johnson) as Roscoe Dellums
Roscoe Dellums is the mother of Piper and wife of Congressman Ron Dellums. Johnson Jerald voiced the character of Sarafina in 2019’s The Lion King and has more than 70 acting credits including in the television series The Orville, Castle, 24, The Larry Sanders Show, ER, and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
‘The Color of Friendship’ Songs and Soundtrack
Music isn’t the main feature of The Color of Friendship, with a small supporting soundtrack. It does include some 1970s favorites including Earth, Wind & Fire’s Sing a Song and Back in Love Again by L.T.D. Other performers include Jason Paige (also known for his music on the Pokemon television series) and Az Yet.
‘The Color of Friendship’ at the Box Office
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‘The Color of Friendship’ Reviews – What the Critics Said
Critics agreed that, although at times predictable, The Color of Friendship is a compelling movie that thoughtfully explores the issues of racism, apartheid, and what it means to be friends. Released during Black History Month in 2000, the movie garnered numerous major awards, including an Emmy Award for Outstanding Children’s Program, the Humanitas Prize, the NAACP Image Award: Outstanding Youth or Children’s Series/Special.
Where ‘The Color of Friendship’ Fits in the Disney Movie Pantheon
With an audience score of 76% on Rotten Tomatoes, a 2019 Insider.com ranking of “50 of the best Disney Channel original movies of all time” put The Color of Friendship in the #6 spot. Critics and families alike appreciated the risk Disney took by making a serious statement about prejudice in one of their kid-focused movies. “Transcendent moments, with resonance for contemporary racial divides, are infused with heart and charm, anchored by a top-notch cast,” according to 2000 a Los Angeles Times review. Released during what TVguide.com calls the “Disney Channel Original Movie (DCOM) golden age…The Color of Friendship distinguished itself as a groundbreaking movie that took an unflinching look at racism.”
‘The Color of Friendship’ Trailer
‘The Color of Friendship’ Trivia: 5 Fast Facts
Set in 1977, The Color of Friendship is based on real events and tackles the issues of racism and prejudice head-on. Here’s what you need to know.
1. ‘The Color of Friendship’ “Took an Unflinching Look at Racism” Through the Real-Life Story of Piper Dellums
The Disney Channel Original Movie was inspired by the short story “Simunye,” written by Piper Dellums about her experience hosting South African exchange student Carrie—renamed Mahree in the movie—in 1977. Director Kevin Hooks and Executive Producer Allan Sacks contacted Dellum in the late 1990s about adapting the story. At the time, Dellums was living in South Africa helping to build post-apartheid housing for black citizens.
2. Audiences Were Shocked to Hear the N-Word on the Disney Channel
A two-minute scene in the movie reveals how ingrained Mahree’s racism is, when she realizes she’ll be attending Piper’s “Bantu school”—a term for black schools in the segregated apartheid education system. Piper asks if “Bantu” is a term for the N-word, and Mahree responds that there’s a different word for that. The casual—and uncensored—way in which she speaks of the racist system of apartheid makes it clear she doesn’t recognize its impacts, even on herself.
3. Carrie, the Real-life Mahree, Became a Student Leader Against Apartheid
Carrie, the real-life Mahree, returned to South Africa and was quickly arrested for helping to organize the first student anti-apartheid movement. According to Piper Dellums, Carrie wrote to Congressman Dellums seeking help, but when her communications stopped and attempts to reach her through official channels failed, the Dellums family believes Carrie was likely killed for her anti-apartheid activism.
4. There Is a Real Dellums in the Movie’s Cast
Erik Dellums, Ron Dellums’ son, and Piper’s brother, has a small role as Oliver in the television movie.
5. Louisiana Loves ‘The Color of Friendship’
A 2017 cableTV.com project used Google Trends data to determine the most-watched Disney Channel Original Movie in each state. The Color of Friendship pops up in one state: Louisiana.