It was only a matter of time before Princess Elena of Avalor graced the living rooms of children around the United States.
Disney’s new princess has the same almond eyes, tiny waist and waist-length hair as her predecessors. But when the heroine makes her TV debut next year, she will be the entertainment giant’s first Latina princess.
Hispanics currently make up the largest ethnic minority in the United States, with 16.7 percent of Americans identifying as Hispanic. Children’s programming has slowly started to cash in on that market. The success of the animated show Dora the Explorer, which chronicles the adventures of a bilingual Latina girl, has grown into an $11 billion franchise according to Nickelodeon, the show’s home network. While Disney has introduced Hispanic characters in some of its programming, the long-cherished princess brand has never included a Latina.
Orphaned after her parents were taken from her by an evil sorceress, Elena goes on a quest to protect her little sister and reclaim her right to the throne, with the help of her magical sidekicks, of course. If that sounds familiar, it’s because it is. Disney has remained faithful to the tried and true plot points that sent its last princess movie, Frozen, to the top of the charts. The movie brought in $1.29 billion worldwide, the sixth-highest grossing movie of all time.
Princess Elena’s tales will be introduced in a special episode of Disney Junior’s series, Sofia the First, in 2016, but by the end of the year she will have her own animated series, the company said in a statement.
“What excites us most is the chance to use distinctive animation and visual design to tell wonderful stories influenced by culture and traditions that are familiar to the worldwide population of Hispanic and Latino families and reflect the interests and aspirations of all children as told through a classic fairy tale,” said Nancy Kanter, executive vice president of Disney Junior Worldwide.