After nearly a century with no Latin American representation in the elite world of Disney princesses, the long-awaited day has finally come: we have a Latina Disney princess. Of course we’re not talking about a 1990s-era epic animated feature like the ones that brought us iconic Native American, Middle Eastern, Chinese, Roma, and Mermaid princesses, but rather a daily half hour animated series on Disney Junior. But hey, algo es algo, right?
Sure, they threw Latin America a bone with 2000’s The Emperor’s New Groove, but instead of a princess we got a llama, making this a true first for la raza cósmica. Elena of Avalor will be a spin-off of the channel’s highly popular Sofía the First animated series, and will follow the adventures of the eponymous Princess Elena after she is freed from an enchanted jewel where she was imprisoned by an evil sorceress.
The backstory provided by the folks at Disney suggests that Elena’s kingdom was taken from her and her family by the aforementioned sorceress Saruki, and may be a subtle reference to the Spanish conquest of the Americas. Or maybe they just recycled it from any number of princess stories past and present. Either way, Disney has been smart enough not to assign Elena any one specific ethnic background, instead describing her as a mix of “diverse Latin cultures and folklore,” which almost universally involve young women dressing up as princesses for their fifteenth birthdays.
It was revealed in 2015 that Elena would be voiced by Dominican-born actress Aimee Carrero, but now we know that she’ll be working alongside the young Jenna Ortega of Jane the Virgin fame, and Carlos Alazraqui (Reno 911). According to Deadline, additional cast members include Emiliano Díez, Julia Vera, Christian Lanz, Joseph Haro, Jorge Díaz, and Joe Nuñez. While IMDB lists Anthony Mendez (intrepid Jane the Virgin narrator) as appearing in one episode.
Elena will first be introduced in a special upcoming episode of Sofía the First before conquering her own time slot on Disney Junior sometime in 2016.