Disney is finally introducing a Latina princess with the Princess Elena, who is the central character in the new Disney Channel series Elena of Avalor.

Elena of Avalor, Disney’s New Latina Princess

“It’s not a secret that the Hispanic and Latino communities have been waiting and hoping and looking forward to our introduction of a princess that reflected their culture,” Nancy Kanter, the Disney exec overseeing Elena of Avalor, told The New York Times. “We wanted to do it right.

Since Disney has been around for so long and has introduced so many princesses without creating one with Latina heritage, the pressure was on for the studio to do it right now that the time has come. According to Kanter, they were diligent about making sure Elena of Avalor avoids any pitfalls.

“We brought in a whole lot of consultants to advise on everything,” Ms. Kanter said. “We wanted to make sure that she didn’t have a doll-like appearance, and we really wanted to steer clear of romance. She has male friends, as teenage girls obviously do, but we did not want it tinged with, ‘Ooh, they’re falling in love.’”

Additionally, Disney has included Latin folklore, cultural traditions and music in Elena of Avalor episodes.

“We were all very pleasantly surprised at how well the character was conceived,” said Axel Caballero, executive director of the National Association of Latino Independent Producers. “This is going to have a great impact.”’

While Disney has been praised for conceiving a strong character for Elena, one who has far greater agency than many of the princesses before her, there are still some concerns. There’s a discomfort with the fact that Elena, instead of being at the center of a massive feature film, is only getting a TV series. There’s also a matter of the TV show’s inspiration coming from a large swath of Latin cultures.

“She’s not an ornament. This is a princess with real political power, and that’s genuine progress,” said Rebecca C. Hains, an author and professor, who added, “The mashing together of cultures gives me pause.”

Those interested in checking out Elena of Avalor for themselves can watch the first episode on the Disney Channel app. The show’s first season officially premieres July 22 and will run for 22 episodes.

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