Disney has failed Hispanics

Michelle Marchante/ Opinion Director

Disney has failed Hispanics.

Last year, Disney debuted their first Hispanic princess, Elena of Avalor. As Avalor’s princess, she is a skilled sword-fighter, has magical powers and does not have a love interest. She is a mixture of different Hispanic heritages, cultures and legends.

She sounds fascinating, except, Disney has belittled and discriminated against her.

Disney has not treated her like the other princesses. All “official” Disney princesses make their debut in a movie. Not Elena. She made her debut on a Disney Junior show, “Sofia: the First,” before starring in her own spin-off show, “Elena of Avalor.”

Is there a feature film in the works? Not likely.

According to Disney, she’s only meant for the small screen.

During an interview with ABC News, the creator of “Sofia: the First,” and “Elena of Avalor,” Craig Gerber said that he works on the TV side of Disney and has “nothing to do with the features side.”  His show about a Latina princess, he said, was also “luckily compelling enough” for Disney to let him produce it.

But diversity, Gerber said, is important to Disney and that it “doesn’t really matter who is pitching the idea. If the idea is ready to go, they’ll say go ahead and do it.”

If it doesn’t matter who pitches the idea, then why is there not a theatrical release dedicated to our first Hispanic princess?

There is no movie because there is no interest.

The first episode begins with a recap of her “origin story,” explaining in less than two minutes how an evil sorceress trapped Elena in an amulet for 41 years until Sofia released her, and with the magical powers she suddenly gained from her time in the amulet, Elena was able to defeat the sorceress and save her kingdom.

That recap, which sounds more like a prequel, resulted in the creation of “Elena and the Secret of Alavor.” But, this crossover made-for-TV movie, based on its synopsis, makes Sofia sound more like the main character.

So, where is Elena’s story? Is a Hispanic character not worth starring as a feature film’s leading lady?

Without a theatrical release, our first Hispanic princess will never receive the same promotion or the same excitement as the other princesses, nor will she be able to have the same connection with the audience.

Theatrical films act like a “rite of passage” for our Disney princesses and gives them authenticity, but unlike the other princesses, it appears that Elena will have to prove herself worthy or she’ll be forgotten the moment her show ends.

Disney invented Elena for bragging rights. She is considered an “official” Disney princess, had an introductory parade at Magic Kingdom, has Meet & Greets at the parks, and has merchandise in the stores so Hispanic girls can say, “She looks just like me,” because Disney princesses are meant to be inclusive role models.  

Yet, they don’t think she’s worth the screen time. Shame.



The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of Panther Press Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.


Image retrieved from Flickr.

About the Author

Michelle Marchante
Michelle Marchante is the 2018-2019 Editor-in-Chief of PantherNOW. Majoring in broadcast journalism, she lives and breathes web, print, radio and TV news 24/7. You can connect with her on Twitter @TweetMichelleM

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