By Jack Rico
Disney this week announced that they created their first ever Latina Princess and her name will be Princess Elena of Avalor. Here’s the catch, she will only exist as part of the Disney Junior cable TV world and not in film which is where the mainstream masses could really have felt her presence. To keep her ensconced from broad platforms such as the movie arena, unlike the African-American Princess in 2009’s The Princess and the Frog, is something that should have all Hispanics pondering on why the decision of relegating her to the whims of 2-7 year olds? Did things not work out with the diverse Princesses concept in film?
Nevertheless, I congratulate Disney for being at the forefront of diversity in film (McFarland USA), TV (The Wizards of Waverly Place) and Broadway (Aladdin, Cinderella, Lion King).
Her name will be Princess Elena of Avalor a 16-year old who will be introduced in a special episode of Disney Junior’s animated hit series “Sofia the First” in 2016 then later be spun-off in her own animation series the same year. According to Disney, the premise follows “Princess Elena’s journey which began long ago when her parents and kingdom were taken from her by the evil sorceress, Shuriki. Elena bravely faced the sorceress to protect her little sister, Princess Isabel, and grandparents but in the process, her magical amulet pulled her inside its enchanted jewel, saving her life but imprisoning her at the same time. Decades later, Princess Sofia of Enchancia discovers the truth about the amulet she has worn since joining her royal family and sets out to restore Elena to her human form and help her return to the kingdom of Avalor. While Elena is the rightful heir to the throne, she is only age 16 so she will rule Avalor with the help of a Grand Council comprised of her Grandfather Tito, Grandmother Cici and Royal Advisor, Duke Esteban. With some magical friends by her side – Mateo, a wizard-in-training, and Skylar, a magical flying creature – Princess Elena’s further adventures will lead her to understand that her new role requires thoughtfulness, resilience and compassion, the traits of all truly great leaders.”
Nancy Kanter, executive VP and general manager of Disney Junior Worldwide, said in a statement, “Our creative team has delivered a universal story with themes that authentically reflect the hopes and dreams of our diverse audience. What excites us most is the chance to use distinctive animation and visual design to tell wonderful stories influenced by culture and traditions that are familiar to the worldwide population of Hispanic and Latino families and reflect the interests and aspirations of all children as told through a classic fairy tale.”
To keep it authentic, Dominican-born actress Aimee Carrero (ABC Family’s “Young & Hungry”) will be voicing Elena, Silvia Cardenas Olivas (“Moesha,” “The Brothers Garcia”), an alumna of the National Hispanic Media Coalition’s Television Writers Program, will be the story editor and the series’ cultural advisors will be Doris Sommer, Harvard University professor and Director of Graduate Studies in Spanish; and Marcela Davison Aviles, Managing Director and Executive Producer, El Camino Project, an international Latino arts initiative.
Though the show isn’t made for the general public (it’s targeted to kids age 2-7) it’s estimated to reach daily over 207 million households in 154 countries including Latin American countries.
On an interesting note, social media is wondering where the inspiration for the lovely Latina Princess came from. I personally think she looks a lot like Princess Jasmine from Aladdin. A follower of mine said she looks like a Colombian woman or even the now crowned Colombian Ms. Universe Paulina Vega, but perhaps the most compelling tweet was that of Mexican director Jorge R. Gutierrez where he implies that the inspiration might have come from his female lead, Maria, in his Oscar snubbed animated movie “The Book Of Life“:
Could it be…?
If you haven’t seen the show Sofia the First, you can familiarize yourself with it in this video below: