The House of Mouse is welcoming a new Latina princess in its kingdom.
Princess Sofia will make her grand debut on the Disney Channel November 18th in the TV movie, Sofia the First: Once Upon a Princess, followed by a 2013 TV series on both Disney Channel and Disney Junior.
According to Disney Junior, Sofia moved into a castle after her mother Miranda married King Roland II. Miranda, who used to run a shoe shop, became queen of the village. She met the king of Enchancia while he was buying a pair of slippers. Sofia must now learn how to act like a royal, all while overcoming her stepsister Princess Amber’s jealously and royal sorcerer Cedric’s attempts to take over the kingdom.
A release says that the film and series, made for children ages 2-7, were created to teach positive life lessons. “While living in a captivating world of castles, wizards and flying horses, Sofia is a relatable peer-to-peer princess who is experiencing many of the same social situations as young viewers at home – learning how to fit in, making new friends and conquering new skills,” says Disney Junior.
What they are not saying — at least not yet — is that Sofia will be Disney’s first Latina princess.
Entertainment Weekly is reporting Sofia will be voiced by “Modern Family’s” Ariel Winter and her mother will be voiced by “Grey’s Anatomy’s” Sara Ramirez. Previously, a blogger pointed out Miranda had a darker complexion than the other characters, including her daughter, who has blue eyes and light skin. In response, Executive Producer Jamie Mitchell confirmed to EW that “she is Latina.” Mitchell also confirmed to the publication that this makes Sofia Disney’s first Hispanic princess.
While producers of the 2009 film The Princess and the Frog were outspoken in wanting to make the character Tiana “bear the traits of African American women,” EW states the Disney team is purposely not placing emphasis on Sofia’s ethnicity.
“We never actually call it out,” Joe D’ Ambrosia, Vice President of Disney Junior original programming, told EW. “When we got into schools (to talk to young students about the show), what I find fascinating is that every girl thinks that they’re Sofia.”
Disney’s choice to not further celebrate Sofia’s Hispanic heritage has sparked criticism. Alex Nogales, President and CEO for the National Hispanic Media Coalition, a non-profit organization that promotes Latino equality in the entertainment industry, believes Disney needs to provide the Hispanic community a better explanation.
“We need more heroes right now that are very identifiable,” says Nogales. “We’re in a time where Latinos are taking the blame for everything that is wrong with America. This is not a time to pussyfoot around. If you’re going to promote this to the public, and Latinos in particular, do us a favor and make it a real Latina.”
He said hiding the fact she’s Latina says a lot about Disney.
“Are they afraid that some people are not going to accept this princess because she is Latina?” he asked. “The more I think about it, the more bothered I get. I really would like to hear what the execs have to say. What are they afraid of?”
Disney emphasizes that Sofia is “half-Enchancian and half Galdizian,” both fictional towns.
Other diverse princesses previously introduced by Disney include Jasmine, Pocahontas, and Mulan.