The National Institute for Latino Policy reposted today several articles that discuss whether Princess Elena of Avalor—who will make her debut in 2016 on a special episode of Sofia the First, a Disney Junior franchise—represents Latinas or not. The Disney press release says that Princess Elena is “a confident and compassionate teenager in an enchanted fairy tale kingdom inspired by diverse Latin cultures and folklore.” All sorts of news outlets reported that Elena was Disney’s “first Latina princess.”
Amelia Butterly (BBC Newsbeat) for example, says yes: “Say hello to Elena – she’s the latest Disney princess and the first of Latin descent.” Meanwhile, Carolina Moreno (Huffington Post) says, “not so fast” in her article “Sorry, Disney’s New Princess Elena Probably Doesn’t Count As Latina.” According to Nancy Kanter, a senior vice president at Disney Junior, “The writers have wisely chosen to write stories that include elements that will be familiar and relatable to kids from many different backgrounds including Spain and Latin America. For example, Sofia’s mom comes from a fictitious land, Galdiz, which was inspired by Spain [. . .]” Consequently, Moreno concludes that “Kanter’s statement indicates that Princess Elena would also not technically be Latina.”
Well. . . I guess I will just have to do some research and watch for traces of Latinidad or Caribbeanness in the episodes when they are aired next year. For now, let’s just highlight the fact that Aimee Carrero, who plays Elena, is an actress of Dominican Republic and Puerto Rican descent.
Here are excerpts of Butterly’s article (with links to the full post as well as Moreno’s and several other articles below):
Disney says she’s “inspired by diverse Latin cultures and folklore”. Elena of Avalor – starting in 2016 – is aimed at children aged two to seven. She reflects “the hopes and dreams of our diverse audience”, says Disney’s Nancy Kanter. Aimee Carrero, who currently stars in the ABC show Young and Hungry, will play teenager Elena.
Latin America has a population of 588 million and is made up of over twenty countries. While Elena does not come from a particular country, Aimee Carrero is an American actress of Dominican Republic and Puerto Rican descent.
The Disney princess franchise was created in the late 1990s, based on characters from Disney films like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) and Cinderella (1950). Others include Ariel from the Little Mermaid (1989) and Pocahontas (1995).
In recent years Disney has introduced more characters from non-white backgrounds. Tiana, who stars in The Princess and the Frog, became the first African-American princess in 2009. Anika Nonie Rose, who voiced the character, said at the time that the new princess would have a big impact on children. [. . .]
[Photo of “Aimee Carrero” by MingleMediaTVNetwork – Aimee Carrero. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Aimee_Carrero.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Aimee_Carrero.jpg]
For full article, see http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/31053428
Also see http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/29/disney-elena-of-avalor-latina_n_6573968.html, http://www.people.com/article/princess-elena-hispanic-latina-disney and http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/disney-launching-latin-inspired-sofia-768220