Disney’s newest princess is set to premiere in three short weeks in Sofia the First: Once Upon a Princess. Despite Sofia the First being Disney’s first Latino princess– and Disney’s youngest– Sofia has not endeared herself to many activists in the Hispanic population.
Previous Disney princesses has broken important ground with Native American (Pocahontas), Asian (Mulan), and African-American (The Princess and the Frog) role models. Sophia’s mother is Spanish and her birth father from a kingdom inspired by Scandinavia. Thus not wholly Hispanic, Sofia herself was born and raised in Enchancia, a “make-believe ‘melting pot’ kingdom” patterned after the British Isles. Sofia is voiced by Ariel Winter (a Caucasian), and her mother by Sara Ramirez (a Hispanic).
Where the problems seem to come from is the character design for Sofia. Hispanic groups question whether a fair-skinned, blue-eyed young princess should be considered an accurate representation of a young girl of Spanish heritage.
“Sofia considers herself a normal Enchancian girl like any other,” said Craig Gerber, co-executive producer of “Sofia the First”. “Her mixed heritage and blended family are a reflection of what many children today experience.”
The series is also criticized by those within the Latino community because Sofia is not getting the same style and depth of promotion as at the introduction of previous princesses of ethnicity. “They’ve done such a good job in the past when they’ve introduced Native American, African-American and Asian princesses,” said Lisa Navarrete, of the National Council of La Raza. “They made a big deal out of it, and there was a lot of fanfare, but now they’re sort of scrambling. It’s unusual because Disney has been very good about Latino diversity.”
“Little girls look to these characters to see themselves represented,” Navarrete continued. “If they don’t see themselves, it makes a difference. It would be nice to see Disney make a full-out push for a Latina princess, whether it’s ‘Sofia the First’ or not.”
Inez Gonzalez, executive vice president of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, said Monday that the organization wanted to meet with Disney to discuss “Sofia the First.”
The TV special “Sofia the First: Once Upon a Princess” will air November 18 on the Disney Channel and Disney Junior, and the full series will begin airing early next year.