Saturday, July 16, 2016

Introducing The First Disney Latina Princess

Elena of Avalor
"Elena of Avalor," Disney's first Latina princess, bursts into action in the latest trailer for her upcoming animated series, premiering on 22 July at Disney Channel.

The series follows Princess Elena (voiced by "Young & Hungry’s" Aimee Carrero) after she's saved her kingdom from an evil sorceress, only to now be faced with ruling over Avalor. Elena faces trials and triumphs with the help of trusted advisors and magical, flying friends. The series also features the voice talents of Jenna Ortega ("Stuck in the Middle"), Chris Parnell ("Archer"), and Yvette Nicole Brown ("The Odd Couple").

In addition to being Disney’s first Latina princess, the 16-year-old Elena is the first princess who plays guitar, which creator Craig Gerber notes is a nod to music's pervasiveness in Latin America.

"In the first episode, Elena and her grandfather have a musical debate while they are both playing guitar about whether she’s ready to be queen yet," Gerber reveals. "We let two different styles of music inform that song: banda and contrapunteo."

Gerber's knowledge of genres like contrapunteo, a traditional acoustic vocal battle with improvised verses, was gleaned over the course of creating Elena. Veteran bassist Rene Camacho, who has toured with Robi "Draco" Rosa and War, among other artists, is the show’s musical consultant.

Gerber learned some lessons about the Latino audience from his last project, the Disney Junior Emmy-nominated hit series "Sofia the First." After it was reported that the light-skinned, blue-eyed Sofia was Latina, there was criticism from Latino groups and others who said that her appearance and character were, essentially, not Latina enough. Disney responded to the backlash by calling Sofia "a mixed-heritage princess in a fairytale world," not the first Latina princess.

This time, Elena is olive-skinned with dark brown hair. While Gerber confirms that she is definitely the first Latina princess, he makes a pre-emptive strike by stressing that in the Disney tradition, Avalor is a fairytale kingdom, not a true representation of a real place. He adds that some Spanish is spoken in the kingdom of Avalor.

Check the trailer below:

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