Meet Sofia the First, Disney’s first Latina princess.
She’s “a regular girl whose life suddenly transforms when her mother marries the king and she becomes a princess.”
A huge fuss is already being made that Sofia has blue eyes, light brown hair, and pale skin. And some are complaining that even though Sofia is Latina, that fact is basically ignored by 99.9% of the characters and plot.
While producers say she is Latina, they don’t make a point of pushing that fact. “We never actually call it out,” said Joe D’Ambrosia, vice president of Disney Junior original programming. “When we go into schools [to talk to young students about the show], what I find fascinating is that every girl thinks that they’re Sofia.”
The criticism about the character is really unfair, explained one Disney representative, who asked to remain anonymous:
“There was no political or social message intended by giving her blue eyes, really. In June we were told that there was a slot open on November 18th on the Disney Channel. We had a few meetings, at which we decided that that she’d be a princess named Sofia and that there would be a magical necklace in the show. We thought that was a really nice element. We all liked the necklace.
“And then we just let the computer do its job. When we saw the finished film, we were delighted. I like fact that there’s a princess stepsister who’s really arrogant, but there’s a prince stepbrother who’s really nice. That creates some interesting tension. And I love the element that the magical necklace gives Sofia the ability to talk with animals. I really wasn’t expecting that!
“But the fact that she’s Latina surprised us all. We were like, ‘whoa, she’s Latina! This is fantastic!’ Really, we were cheering. And as far as her blue eyes and all. I swear, there was no conscious decision to make the first Latina princess look really white. The computer does all the animation and the plot details automatically. So really, no thought went into it at all.
“The only little problem I have with the movie is that Cinderalla shows up to give Sofia some pointers. I thought that was stretching it a bit. But I think the kids will like it.”