She’s adventurous. She’s independent. She’s a new type of princess.
Meet Elena of Avalor. She’s the newest Disney princess, but that’s not what makes her special. She’s also making history as their first-ever Latina princess, and audiences couldn’t be happier.
It’s been almost 80 years since Walt Disney released his first full-length animated film, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” in 1937, but not a single princess of Latin descent has taken center stage until now.
Latinos are the largest ethnic minority in the U.S. with 55 million people, and that number is growing. Elena is already making a difference by highlighting just some of the things Latino culture has to offer.
Elena is no damsel in distress or the type to sit around waiting for Prince Charming, either. In fact, her storyline does not include a love interest.
The story follows 16-year-old Elena, who’s been trapped in an amulet but has returned to rule her kingdom of Avalor and restore it to greatness. Because she’s still so young, she needs advice from the Grand Council: grandfather Francisco, grandmother Luisa, and adviser Chancellor Esteban.
We’re so used to seeing princesses like Aurora lying lifeless on a bed waiting for her prince to bring her back to life with a kiss. Or Cinderella being whisked away to the ball with a beautiful gown on loan to impress the man who will ultimately save her from a life of servitude.
Don’t get me wrong. We all love a good Disney movie, and their past films are truly classics — there’s no denying that. But it’s a new era.
Aimee Carrero, who voices the character of Elena, told ABC News, “I think that as women, whatever ethnicity, we want a balance of everything. But I think this message when it goes out to a young audience, it’s like, find yourself first, before trying to find a partner. Find your passion. Find out where your place in the world is.”
Here are some tweets celebrating the arrival of Elena of Avalor in her new Disney TV series.
Actress Roselyn Sánchez is also a fan.
Another voice actor in the series, Christian Lanz, also weighed in on the new and exciting angle of “Elena de Avalor”:
And he has a little fun with the character he voices:
Even the show’s creator and executive producer, Craig Gerber, is getting in on all the social media hype by tweeting out teasers for what’s to come.
And have I mentioned the music? It plays a huge role in the series, as well. Each episode introduces a new original song, and audiences are loving them.
This tweet really sums it all up.
“Elena de Avalor” premiered on the Disney Channel on July 22, and 2.2 million viewers tuned it to watch.
It’s not just kids excited about this new animated series, either. Adults are digging it, too. They’re excited to see Latino culture celebrated, and Latino parents are overjoyed to see their children finally represented on such a massive platform like Disney.
“It is important for children to see empowered, positive role models on television, and that’s why we wanted to introduce Elena,” show creator Gerber told Upworthy.
He said it’s been amazing to see how Elena and her adventures are inspiring young girls and boys of all backgrounds.
Gerber also created “Sofia the First,” who was initially thought to be the first Latina princess, but she wasn’t. The backlash from that confusion gave Gerber the idea to create Elena’s story because he saw the demand for a Latina princess.
It’s a cause for celebration that Disney finally took note that Latino children also want and need to see themselves represented in movies and television — and did something about it.
Kudos to Disney for green-lighting this series and giving kids who didn’t see themselves represented in their movies and shows in the past — like yours truly — a reason to keep tuning in.
“Elena of Avalor” airs Fridays at 7 p.m. Eastern on the Disney Channel.