This time it seems to be for real – Disney is introducing its first Latina princess, Elena of Avalor, an olive-skinned beauty who will make her debut in a special episode of "Sofia the First," the Disney Junior hit TV show, and then will go on to have her very own spin-off.
If the news sound vaguely familiar it’s because a little over a year ago there was a lot of buzz when Sofia the First was mistakenly introduced as Hispanic. Despite the Spanish spelling of the name, it all turned out to be a misunderstanding, with President and CEO for the National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) Alex Nogales playing a central role in clarifying the issue.
Now Nogales says he is pleased to see a Latina princess is finally coming to light.
“We are very happy about it,” he told Fox News Latino. “We all know that Latinos consume media, we all know they are the biggest consumers of this kind of media – so it makes sense, right?”
Nogales was told of the new character by Disney Junior’s VP Nancy Kanter, who called him on the eve of the official announcement, he said. They had met in 2012, to discuss and clarify the confusion regarding Sofia’s ethnicity, and in a way Elena of Avalor is a product of that meeting.
“I told her ‘when are we going to have a real Latina, not a counterfeit?’” he recalls.
The announcement that “Sofia the First” was Disney’s first Latina princess drew fire by some Hispanics who said she looked “too white” to be Latina, and the network’s decision not to emphasize her Hispanic roots.
Disney backpedaled after the controversy, saying Princess Sofia was not Latina but was of “mixed-heritage.”
“Princess Sofia is a mixed-heritage princess in a fairy-tale world,” explained Gerber. “Her mother is originally from an enchanted kingdom inspired by Spain (Galdiz) and her birth father hailed from an enchanted kingdom inspired by Scandinavia,” Co-Executive Producer/Writer Craig Gerber said at the time. “Sofia was born and raised in Enchancia, which is a make-believe ‘melting pot’ kingdom patterned on the British Isles. Sofia considers herself a normal Enchancian girl like any other. Her mixed heritage and blended family are a reflection of what many children today experience.”
In making the announcement on Thursday, Kanter said her creative team has delivered “a universal story with themes that authentically reflect the hopes and dreams of our diverse audience." The princess will be voiced by Aimee Carrero, of ABC Family's "Young & Hungry."
"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," she added in a statement.
The new series will start with one full-hour episode and then will continue developing as a series. Nogales said he is not bothered by the fact that Elena is not jumping to the big screen anytime soon.
“You start somewhere,” he said. “They are going to have a big long episode and then they will take it from there.”