The next Disney princess won’t be on the big screen. Joining the royal family in 2016 is Princess Elena, the group’s first Latina character. She will star in her own Disney Junior series, Elena of Avalor, per a press release distributed today.
According to the network, Elena is “bold, caring, funny, and clever.” Her story is a spinoff of an existing Disney Junior series, Sofia the First. Sofia will learn that her special amulet actually holds a big secret: It holds captive Elena, who was trapped inside by an evil sorceress long ago. Once Sofia rescues Elena, the new series will involve Elena learning how to rule her family’s kingdom with the help of a wizard-in-training, a flying creature, and the Grand Council. The 16-year-old heroine will be voiced by Aimee Carrero of ABC Family’s Young & Hungry.
Nancy Kanter, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Disney Junior Worldwide, said, “Our creative team has delivered a universal story with themes that authentically reflect the hopes and dreams of our diverse audience.” She continued, “What excites us most is the chance to use distinctive animation and visual design to tell wonderful stories influenced by culture and traditions that are familiar to the worldwide population of Hispanic and Latino families and reflect the interests and aspirations of all children as told through a classic fairy tale.”
The series will keep Elena’s heritage integral to the story. Credited as “cultural advisors” are Doris Sommer, Harvard University professor and Director of Graduate Studies in Spanish; and Marcela Davison Aviles, Managing Director and Executive Producer, El Camino Project, an international Latino arts initiative.
It is unknown at this time if Elena will be official dubbed a Princess (capital P) within Disney’s franchise. While several princesses (lowercase p) technically qualify as royal female protagonists (Kida, Giselle, Sofia), there are 11 who are considered part of the official Disney Princess lineup: Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora, Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Pocahontas, Mulan, Tiana, Rapunzel, and Merida. Anna and Elsa have yet to have a formal welcome in the wake of Frozen‘s powerhouse as a stand-alone franchise. Sofia the First is known for having guest appearances by many of the Disney Princesses, most of them voiced by their original actresses (most recently Mandy Moore as Rapunzel and Anika Noni Rose as Tiana).
The special episode of Sofia the First, which will introduce Elena, will premiere on Disney Junior in 2016, closely followed by the series premiere of Elena of Avalor.
Edited by: Hannah Wilkes