Disney’s First Latina Princess Doesn’t Look Like A Latina Princess

Latina Disney Princess Sofia Ariel Winter white

Meet Princess Sofia, a new Disney character being touted as Disney’s first Latina princess. She’ll be starring in her own direct-to-TV movie Sofia the First on November 18th, which will lead into a TV series in 2013. The movie, aimed at Disney Junior viewers, is about commoner Sofia adjusting to royal life after her mother marries the king of Enchancia. In addition to taking on the responsibilities of a princess, Sofia has to deal with her jealous stepsister Amber and a sorcerer named Cedric.

But with five weeks til the movie comes out, there’s controversy around the fact that Sofia honestly doesn’t look like we would expect a Latina princess to. Bloggers have pointed out her fair skin and blue eyes, especially compared to her mother’s darker complexion. At a recent press tour, executive producer Jamie Mitchell clarified, “She is Latina.” However, Disney Junior original programming VP Joe D’Ambrosia said that they’re intentionally not emphasizing her ethnicity: “We never actually call it out.” Mitchell added, “It’s sort of a matter-of-fact situation rather than an overt thing.” Indeed, Sofia is described as half-Enchancian and half-Galdizian, two fictional kingdoms. So the word “Latina” doesn’t really come into play—and I have to wonder if that’s disempowering for Latina viewers?

Latina Disney Princess Sofia Ariel Winter whiteAdding insult to injury is the fact that Sofia is voiced by Ariel Winter, a white actress who plays Alex Dunphy on Modern Family. Ariel also played Dora the Explorer in CollegeHumor’s live-action Dora trailer, where she prompted the same criticism that they hadn’t chosen a non-white actress. Sara Ramirez voices Sofia’s mother, but it seems odd that a secondary character would be Latina and the star wouldn’t. Or rather, that the main character is part-Latina and that should be “enough” for viewers.

I can see Disney’s argument that they shouldn’t have to focus on Sofia’s ethnicity as her most important trait. But when they don’t seem to acknowledge it at all – and have for Pocahontas, Tiana, Mulan, and other princesses of color — that’s odd.

[via BuzzFeed]

Photos: Disney, Adriana M. Barraza/WENN.com

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    • Angela

      Look Latina? Latina is not a race.

      • nataliecrush

        Hey Angela, thanks for catching that. We didn’t mean to offend and have adjusted the phrasing to better get our point across.

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    • Varsico

      I find it a little bit offensive that people point out she doesn’t LOOK latina because of her skin and eye color, latin americans are a huge mix of races and don’t really have an established look.

      • nataliecrush

        But if we (meaning the media) didn’t say anything about it, don’t you think people would call us out for not caring?

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    • Lauren

      I find this a little ridiculous to be annoyed at who voiced the character. Lea Salonga did the singing voice of Princess Jasmine, she is Asian and Jasmine is Arabic. She later did the singing voice of Mulan who is Chinese and Lea is actually Filipino. The point is, that they are a VOICE, they aren’t trying to look like a different race so I don’t see the problem there.

      • nataliecrush

        I definitely think it’s a secondary issue, but maybe that didn’t come across. I guess I’m just envisioning Ariel at press events and young viewers being confused. It’s not like, when Aladdin came out and we were all so young, that Lea Salonga was in the media as much as the girl/woman voicing a Disney princess would be today.

      • Ryan

        It does not matter. There are white latin americans (Latinos) who are white with blonde hair and blue eyes. Check out Argentina or other South American locations. As far as the actress goes, this is what she is doing, she is acting a part. Should we only pick gay actors for gay roles? Should we only pick people who actually believe in what they are saying? Or… should we pick in people who are actors/actresses doing what they are paid to do… act…
        This is a silly and childish article.

      • jezp112

        the point is Hollywood should ideally use actors to be inclusive of all ethnicities, so people don’t only see white people in the movies. it seems like they kind of cheated here because they have fulfilled their ‘quota’ of hiring minorities on the screen, but we don’t even know she’s latina.

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    • http://www.facebook.com/wolfie.okami.5 Wolfie Okami Hyuuga

      I agree that what she looks like should not be offensive to anyone. If anything Stereotypes are what should be offensive. I feel proud to have a hispanic princess who breaks the barrier to stereotypes. I am 100% Puerto Rican but my hair is dark blonde and my eyes are honey hazel and my skin is pale. In my family we even have red heads. I find it offensive that people want to continue using stereotypes.

    • Locke42

      *facepalm*

      She’s not Latina, she’s Hispanic, which means descended from Spain.

      And guess what? The most famous Spanish princess, Catherine of Aragon (yes, the one from the Tudors), ALSO had fair skin, red hair, and blue eyes.

      EDIT:
      Okay, someone from Disney said she’s “Latina.” I still take issue with that, since “Latina/Latino” is supposed to refer to Latin America, and unless I’m mistaken, there was never a “Princess of Mexico” or whatnot. People confuse “Latino/Latina” with “Hispanic” WAY too often.

    • http://www.facebook.com/UpKnitCreek Thea Freimund

      Meh…. Princess Leia is Disney’s newest princess.

    • Maria v

      I agree with the comment below me! Latin Americans are derived from all sorts of mixes. And hispanics have Spanish- Europeans as one of our main roots. I have an olive skin tone and dark hair and my grandfather has fair skin and blue eyes and blonde hair. Arwnt we still hispanic ?It just seems illogical that you have to base a culture on a standard, when there is really much more than that!

    • QueenB

      Latina how exactly? Alexis Bledel is latina and it’s white and with blue eyes, hello!