Princess Sofia from the upcoming Disney Channel and Disney Junior TV feature, “Sofia the First: Once Upon a Princess,” was all set to make history as Walt Disney’s first-ever Latina princess. But now, following a big hullabaloo from some who thought her auburn hair, fair skin and blue eyes didn’t look “Hispanic enough,” the company is backtracking, saying Sofia’s not actually Latina.
“Some of you may have seen the recent news stories on whether Sofia is or isn’t a ‘Latina princess.’ What’s important to know is that Sofia is a fairytale girl who lives in a fairytale world,” writes Nancy Kanter, senior vice president of original programming and general manager of Disney Junior Worldwide, on the “Sofia the First” Facebook page. “All our characters come from fantasy lands that may reflect elements of various cultures and ethnicities but none are meant to specifically represent those real world cultures.”
She continues, “The writers have wisely chosen to write stories that include elements that will be familiar and relatable to kids from many different backgrounds including Spain and Latin America. For example, Sofia’s mom comes from a fictitious land, Galdiz, which was inspired by Spain. There are wonderful stories coming up in which Sofia and her family celebrate a winter holiday called Wassailia (reminiscent of a Scandinavian Christmas), and go on a picnic in Wei-Ling, an Asian-inspired kingdom.”
“Most importantly, Sofia’s world reflects the ethnically diverse world we live in but it is not OUR world, it is a fairytale and storybook world that we hope will help spur a child’s imagination.”
In an Entertainment Weekly story published Oct. 16, “Sofia the First” executive producer Jamie Mitchell said, “She is Latina,” acknowledging Sofia as the first-ever Hispanic Disney princess.
Joe D’Ambrosia, vice president of Disney Junior original programming, followed up on the comment in the same article, saying, “We never actually call it out. When we go into schools [to talk to young students about the show], what I find fascinating is that every girl thinks that they’re Sofia.”
Disney has previously veered from its usually white princesses with Pocahontas and Tiana from “Princess and the Frog.”
“Sofia the First: Once Upon A Princess” premieres on the Disney Channel on Nov. 18, with the television series coming to Disney Channel and Disney Junior in 2013. Sofia is voiced by “Modern Family” star Ariel Winter.