Well, thanks for clearing that up, Disney. Despite multiple and glowing reports that Disney would be debuting its first Latina princess, Sofia the First, Disney has clarified that Sofia is “a mixed-heritage princess.” It would appear that the Disney staff is pretty divided on what it means to be Latina in the first place. That and some other potential racial pitfalls appear to be in store judging by an awkward disclaimer for the new series.
It was only last week that executive producer, Jamie Mitchell, openly declared that Sofia was the first Latina princess to appear on a Disney animation project, telling NBC news plainly, “She is Latina.” Joe D’Ambrosia, vice president of Disney Junior original programming, followed up with a more softening statement, saying that he and his fellow producers “never actually call it out.”
But despite initial insistence that Sofia was Latina, potential fans took to Sofia’s Facebook to voice concerns over the little girl’s complexion. Some fans posited that Sofia’s light skin made her a little less Latina than they were hoping for. Ruth Iorio wrote on Sofia’s Facebook page that Disney’s attempt at a Latina princess was “pathetic”:
She’s white. She looks white because Disney caters to a predominantly white audience and white people like watching other white people, or brown people who can pass as white people. Fuck Disney and fuck anyone who thinks this is anything more than a pathetic and patronizing dismissal of ethnic diversity and equality.
Farah Chanteuse Belliard also seemed disappointed:
They don’t actually SAY she’s Latina, and they admit as much…. call me when she starts speaking Spanish.
Deya Diaz insinuated that Sofia was a start towards diversity:
She’s HALF? I’ll take it! Any where we can get some fame – I’m with it! LOL…No but seriously, I am with the majority of you…There is no set way of Looking Latina! My older bro is a dark shade and my younger bro is blonde hair hazel eyes, while i’m in between. We have the same parents, but all look different. That’s being Latino! We are all different shades…
But just today, Disney backtracked on all that Latina princess press, assuring excited fans that it’s Sofia’s “fairytale” background that’s most important. Craig Gerber, co-executive producer/writer on Sofia the First, clarified the “is she or isn’t she?” with a simple detailing of her parents:
“Princess Sofia is a mixed-heritage princess in a fairy-tale world. Her mother is originally from an enchanted kingdom inspired by Spain (Galdiz) and her birth father hailed from an enchanted kingdom inspired by Scandinavia.”