Writer Ilana Peña is bringing her first show as a creator and producer to Disney+, the company’s upcoming streaming service that will house existing content and original programming. Peña’s Diary of a Female President follows a Cuban-American 12-year-old girl named Elena who’s in middle school, but will ultimately become the president of the United States. Diary of a Female President shines among the site’s offers for its inspiring premise and Latina protagonist.
This weekend at the D23 Expo, Disney debuted a behind-the-scenes presentation that included an interview with Peña. “It’s based on my childhood, and it really feels like this show is my heart,” she said in the video. “I love that it’s getting told now and to see it come to life in such a magical way with our amazing cast and crew. I’m so excited for the world to be able to see it.”
According to the video, the crew is diverse and mostly comprised of women. That decision goes along with Peña’s hope to empower young people from underrepresented communities. The half-hour comedy of ten episodes stars up-and-coming Latina actress Tess Romero as young Elena and Gina Rodriguez as adult Elena. Rodriguez also serves executive producer and director of the first episode.
“Everybody who is inspiring, who is important, who is a great leader, was once a middle school kid, and for kids to be able to look at that and be like, ‘That can be me,’ I think that’s the most important [thing] to say, and I’m thrilled that we get to say it,” Peña explained.
Unable to share concrete details, Rodriguez and Romero nonetheless took the stage at D23 after the video to briefly show their enthusiasm for the project. “I’m exhilarated and excited to bring hope, positivity, joy, and a family comedy to your houses and I hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed making it,” said Rodriguez to a packed house of Disney fanatics.
At the end of the clip, Rodriguez’s character is seen standing on a podium to announce her campaign. It’s a stirring moment to say the least. “I am Elena Cañero-Reed and I am running for President of the United States of America,” she says. “When we see Gina Rodriguez on that stage as the President-to-be of the United States, you feel a lot of hope for our future,” concluded Peña.
Diary of a Female President is currently in production and will debut on Disney+ in 2020.