The Disney Channel is upping its diversity game with its new original series Elena of Avalor.
After saving her kingdom from an evil sorceress, Elena discovers that her journey is only beginning as she learns to navigate life as a crown princess. And in case you’re wondering, Elena (voiced by Aimee Carrero) is in no need of a man to put a ring on it.
Not only is Disney working to build up its inclusiveness by centering a TV series around its first Latina princess, it’s also continuing the push for its princesses to create their own narratives that don’t revolve around snaring the affections of a man (see: Frozen).
Before you think Elena of Avalor will be a cursory gloss-over of Latin and Hispanic traditions and cultures, be advised that the series has cultural advisors in Marcela Davison Avilés, founder of The Chapultepec Group, cofounder of the international Latino arts initiative Camino Arts, and director of humanities programs at the FDR Foundation at Harvard University; and Diane Rodriguez, associate artistic director of Centre Theatre Group and cofounder of the theatre ensemble Latins Anonymous.
Elena’s descent isn’t of just one nationality–she’s from the fictional land of Avalor that pulls from a variety of Latin and Hispanic cultures.
There may be some confusion around Elena’s claim to the “first Latina princess” throne, seeing as there’s the tiny matter of the Emmy-award-winning series Sofia the First, which debuted in 2012. Elena creator and executive producer Craig Gerber–who also created Sofia–sees the new series as something of a response to the criticism that although Sofia was marketed as Latina, she didn’t really look the part. Back in 2012, executive producer Jamie Mitchell initially claimed that Sofia was Disney’s first Latina princess, but later backtracked and clarified that Sofia’s fictitious country of Galdiz was merely inspired by Spain. Seeing how strongly people reacted to the Princess Sofia dustup made Gerber realize there was a strong demand for a more authentically Latina princess (no shade, Sofia).
Check out the exclusive Elena of Avalor featurette below.
Elena of Avalor premieres Friday, July 22 at 7/8 pm EST on The Disney Channel.