Earlier today, ABC News heralded the arrival of Elena, the newest addition to Disney’s royalty lineup. At the same time, Elena was announced as the House Of Mouse’s first Latina princess. If you experienced some déjà vu reading that, it’s probably because the company trotted out a similar talking point almost four years ago, when it unveiled Sofia The First, who was the first Latina Disney princess until she wasn’t. But this time, no one’s obfuscating Elena’s Latina identity, which we’ll learn more about when her TV series debuts later this month.
Back in October 2014, Sofia The First’s executive producer Jamie Mitchell described Sofia as “Latina,” only to have a different producer amend that to “Latina-ish” (which didn’t end up being the title of the show, despite the ABC affiliation). Disney clarified that Sofia was a “mixed-heritage princess” whose fictional kingdom was only inspired by Latino cultures.
But there’s been no such quibbling about Elena’s background. The new princess will lead a Sofia spin-off, Elena Of Avalor, whose stories will “draw on the traditions, foods and customs of Latin and Hispanic cultures,” presumably without referring to them as “Matino” or “Trispanic.” And the score for the animated series will feature Latin pop, salsa and banda, among other music styles.
Level Up’s Aimee Carrero will voice the new princess on Elena Of Avalor, which premieres July 22 on the Disney Channel. Carrero, a Dominican-American actress and singer, will also perform Elena’s anthem, “My Time.” The character’s history will be further fleshed out this fall in the TV movie Elena And The Secret Of Avalor, which will tell the story of how the teen was freed from an amulet to rule her kingdom. (That’s really no more far-fetched than someone trading their voice for legs.)