After unveiling its “first Latina” princess last week, Disney now says Jamie Mitchell, the producer of the TV show “Sofia the First,” “misspoke” during a press tour and that the title character is not a Latina.
The word comes after questions arose about what made “Sofia the First” culturally relevant and why the media wasn’t informed when the show was first announced in 2011.
The National Hispanic Media Coalition, a Latino media advocacy organization, met with Nancy Kanter, Disney Junior Worldwide’s senior vice president of original programming and general manager, to discuss the impact of “Sofia the First” in the Latino community.
“She shared that Sofia the First is in fact not a Latina character and that the producer of the television program misspoke,” NHMC president and CEO Alex Nogales said in a statement. “We accept the clarification and celebrate the good news that Disney Junior has an exciting project in early development that does have a Latina as the heroine of the show.”
Just days before meeting with the media group, Kanter tried to clarify the princess’ ethnicity on their Disney Junior Worldwide Facebook page:
“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. 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. 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 has been no confirmation from Disney on whether a project with a Latina heroine was already in the works, but the NHMC has agreed to share an alumni list from its writers program to help create authentic, three-dimensional Latino characters.
Nogales said he appreciated Disney/ABC’s commitment to diversity and that he looks forward to seeing more Latino lead characters as the stars of their shows.
By Cindy Y. Rodriguez