One of the knocks against Disney has been that despite a wide variety of princesses in the company’s TV and film productions, there has not been one to represent the Hispanic population. That changes with the launch of “Elena of Avalor.”
The new animated series for the Disney Channel is set in a fictitious world, but the princess and the country where she lives definitely have been inspired by Latin cultures and folklore. The series will follow Elena (voiced by Aimee Carrero), a 16-year-old ascendant to the throne of the fairytale kingdom of Avalor.
Carrero, who was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and grew up in the community of Miami, knew from the moment she was cast this wasn’t just another in a long line of acting roles.
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“I think about the importance every single day. It’s an incredible honor. There are no words to describe it,” Carrero says. “I guess that’s not good for you since you are writing a story.”
Carrero found plenty to say about the show, which exists in the same world as the mega Disney Jr. hit “Sofia the First.” It’s a little easier for her to talk about the series now that the first season has been completed. Seeing little girls dressed as Elena, who tell her how much they are inspired by the character, has been enough to bring her to tears.
Carrero knows how they feel since she spent a lot of time at Disney World, where her uncle worked and an Imagineer. She was moved as a youngster by the Disney princesses, especially those who showed an adventurous side such as Mulan, Jasmine or Cinderella.
What she sees as an adventurous quality she calls curiosity in herself. Carrero is certain she got into acting because she was curious what it would be like to be another person. In a moment of pure honesty, Carrero admits that acting came along by default because she couldn’t sing or dance.
It’s worked out so far as her credits include “Level Up,” “Blue Lagoon: The Awakening,” “Devil’s Due” and “The Americans.” She’s also one of the stars of “Young & Hungry.” She hopes to be able to continue with that series or star in a potential spinoff along with doing the voice work.
“Elena of Avalor” is the first voice work for Carrero. She loves the challenge because it gives her the chance to work with a different kind of partner, the animators. And, there are the writers who have created a character who while not perfect is very positive and willing to learn
“I hope people pick up that leadership is not about power,” Carrero says. “It’s about doing what is best even if that comes at a great sacrifice. I hope that kids can see that.”
The bigger picture is that now Disney has a Latina princess to go along with the other princesses from around the world.
There are no plans now, but because her series is animated, there’s always a chance a Disney princess might stop by to visit in the future. Carrero’s choices for guest spots include Tatiana, Mulan or Sleeping Beauty.
Carrero laughs and says that Snow White would probably be terrified of Elena.
The rest of the cast includes Jenna Ortega, Chris Parnell, Yvette Nicole Brown, Carlos Alazraqui, Emiliano Díez, Julia Vera, Christian Lanz, Jillian Rose Reed, Joseph Haro and Jorge Diaz.
Elena of Avalor
- 7 p.m. Friday, July 22, Disney Junior