Disney’s First Latina Princess to Star in TV Movie This Fall

by Marilyn Roca Enriquez in

Princess Elena is no stranger to OutlooK-12 Magazine. Our second issue featured the first Latina Disney princess, and to date she is the only cartoon character to appear on our cover. This fall, however, Princess Elena is slated for another first: to star in her own movie on the Disney Channel. 

The TV movie, which is entitled “Elena and the Secret of Avalor,” will explain how despite being  princess, 16-year-old Elena’s fairy tale is more of a hero’s journey that began long ago when the evil sorceress, Shuriki, took her parents and kingdom from her. Elena bravely faced the sorceress to protect her little sister, Princess Isabel, and her grandparents, but in the process, her magical amulet pulled her inside its enchanted jewel, saving her life but imprisoning her at the same time. Decades later, Princess Sofia of Enchancia, star of the Disney Junior TV series “Sofia the First,” discovers the truth about the amulet that she has worn since joining her royal family and sets out to restore Elena to her human form and help her return to the kingdom of Avalor.  

Although this will be Princess Elena’s first starring role in a TV movie, Disney fans are already familiar with the brave and adventurous princess and the world of Avalor.  As was reported on OutlooK-12’s website, Princess Elena made her officially royal debut in the highly anticipated animated series “Elena of Avalor,” which had a one-hour premiere event on Friday, July 22 on the Disney Channel. Following its U.S. debut, the series was rolled out globally in 33 languages in 163 countries on Disney Channels worldwide.

Set in the enchanted fairytale land of Avalor, the series picks up where the movie leaves off and tells what happens to Elena after she saved her kingdom from the evil sorceress and must now learn to rule as crown princess until she is old enough to be queen. As the series unfolds, Elena’s journey will lead her to understand that her new role requires thoughtfulness, resilience and compassion, the traits of all truly great leaders. 

Since Elena is the first Latina Disney princess, the TV series’ stories incorporate influences from diverse Latin and Hispanic cultures through architecture, traditions, food and customs. Magic, mythology and folklore are an important aspect of the series from the first episode, “First Day of Rule,” where Elena officially becomes crown princess and rescues her sister, Isabel, from Noblins, elf-like shape shifting creatures based on a Chilean peuchen myth. The episode also introduces Zuzo, Elena’s spirit guide in the animal world, based on the belief of a Mayan tribe in southern Mexico. Music also play an important role with each episode of “Elena of Avalor” featuring original songs spanning an array of Latin musical styles including Mariachi, Latin Pop, Salsa, Banda and Chilean Hip Hop.

Extensions for the series include Disney Parks & Resorts, which will welcome Princess Elena at Walt Disney World Resort this month and at Disneyland Resort in the fall; print and e-book titles from Disney Publishing; and dolls, role-play products, accessories, home décor and apparel from Disney Store and licensees including Hasbro, Jakks Pacific, Franco Manufacturing and Children’s Apparel Network.  Walt Disney Records has released Elena’s anthem titled “My Time” as a digital single on iTunes and a seven-track EP featuring songs from the series, and Disney Studios will release an episode compilation DVD later this year. 

“Elena of Avalor” stars Aimee Carrero as the voice of Elena (she also performs “My Time”); Jenna Ortega as Princess Isabel; Chris Parnell, Yvette Nicole Brown and Carlos Alazraqui as the magical flying jaquins Migs, Luna and Skylar respectively; Emiliano Díez as Francisco; Julia Vera as Luisa; Christian Lanz as Chancellor Esteban; Jillian Rose Reed as Naomi; Joseph Haro as Mateo; Jorge Diaz as Gabe; Keith Ferguson as Zuzo; and Joe Nunez as Armando.

The recurring guest voice cast includes: Constance Marie as Doña Paloma, Magister of the Traders Guild; Lou Diamond Phillips as Victor Delgado, a debonair villain who uses his charisma to deceive the people around him; Justina Machado and Jaime Camil as siblings Carmen and Julio who run a restaurant in Avalor; Rich Sommer as Captain Daniel Turner, Naomi’s father and harbormaster; Tyler Posey as Prince Alonso, a charming prince from the Argentine-inspired Kingdom of Cordoba; Lucas Grabeel as Jiku, the leader of the Noblins; and Echo Kellum as King Joaquín, a monarch from the Caribbean-inspired Kingdom of Cariza who is a trusted and close friend of Elena.

The guest voice cast for season one includes: Tituss Burgess as Charoca, a magical volcano creature based on a Chilean myth; Ana Ortiz as Rafa, Mateo’s mother; Ivonne Coll as Doña Angelica, an absent-minded and overly dramatic ghost; Hector Elizondo as Fiero, a wicked wizard; Odette Annable as Señorita Marisol, Isabel’s enthusiastic young teacher; Danny Trejo as Antonio Agama, a popular Avaloran hero; Anthony Mendez as King Juan Ramón, a monarch from the Argentine-inspired Kingdom of Cordoba; Eden Espinosa as Orizaba, an evil moth fairy banished to the spirit world; Marsai Martin as Cat, a budding scientist and adventurer; Aasif Mandvi as King Raja, a monarch from the Indian-inspired Kingdom of Napurna; and George Takei as King Toshi, a monarch from the Japanese-inspired Kingdom of Satu. 

Latin Grammy Award winner Gaby Moreno performs the series’ theme song and will also voice a guest role. Born in Guatemala, Moreno performs her music, which ranges from blues to jazz to soul to R&B, in both English and Spanish. In addition to winning the Latin Grammy Award for Best New Artist in 2013, Moreno was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Main Title Theme Music in 2010 for co-writing the theme song to “Parks and Recreation.”

“Elena of Avalor” was created by Emmy Award winner Craig Gerber who also serves as executive producer. Silvia Cardenas Olivas is the story editor, and Elliot M. Bour is the supervising director. The series’ cultural advisors are Marcela Davison Avilés, founder of The Chapultepec Group, co-founder of the international Latino arts initiative Camino Arts, and Director of Humanities Programs at the FDR Foundation at Harvard University; and Diane Rodriguez, Associate Artistic Director of Centre Theatre Group and co-founder of the theatre ensemble Latins Anonymous who was recently appointed by President Obama to be a member of the National Council on the Arts. 

Emmy Award-nominated Tony Morales ("Hatfields & McCoys") is the composer, Emmy Award winner John Kavanaugh (“Sofia the First”) is the songwriter/music director, and acclaimed touring musician and Latin music instructor Rene Camacho serves as Latin music consultant. 
“Elena of Avalor” is a production of Disney Television Animation and carries a TV-Y parental guideline.

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