Disney Princesses have long been known for their perfect figures, gorgeous hair and undeniable whiteness. We’ve only seen a few characters stray from the path. There’s Tiana from The Princess and the Frog who is Disney’s only black princess, Jasmine and Mulan, who are of Middle Eastern an Asian descent respectively, Pocahontas, who is Native American, and Merida from Brave, who is white but has a mess of curly hair and a less-than Disney-perfect body.
Though the world of Disney princesses is generally white-washed (Snow White, anyone?), the motion picture giant has been taking steps towards making their characters more inclusive and better role models. We’re used to the classic trope that Disney princesses need a prince to save them, but recent films like Frozen and Brave — and even the odd classic like Mulan — show women as competent, smart rebels who don’t need saving.
Disney still has a long way to go when it comes to creating characters that represent how wonderfully diverse the world is, but the company has taken a major step forward by introducing their first Latina character. Elena of Avalor is the first Latina Disney princess and the protagonist of the eponymous TV series. At just 16 years old, she defeats an evil sorceress and becomes the ruler of Avalon. The series follows her story as she learns how to rule a land while still being a teenager.
Elena of Avalor is a wise move considering that Latino consumers are largely underrepresented among Disney’s entities. The series will also celebrate Latin culture by including Latin folklore and cultural traditions in each episode. The series hired a number of consultants to make sure that everything from the music to the architecture was culturally accurate.
The series, which will air on Disney Channel, is also presented with a feminist slant. Unlike stale Disney tales from yesteryear, Elena of Avalor will primarily focus on Elena’s life as a ruler rather than her romantic interests. The girl doesn’t need any saving!
Check out the trailer for the series above. Elena of Avalor premieres on July 22nd.