Here's how Disney show 'Elena of Avalor' includes Latin American culture

'Elena' stars Aimee Carrero as a princess who is learning to rule her kingdom. Those behind the program say they looked to Latin culture when creating the world of Avalor.

“Elena of Avalor,” an upcoming Disney Channel TV show that takes its ideas for the world it depicts from various Hispanic and Latin customs, arrives on TV on July 22. 

Elena, a new character, is a young woman who helped defeat a malevolent enemy with magical powers and is now taking on the task of being in charge of Avalor. She is aided by her grandparents, among others. 

Aimee Carrero of the TV series “Blindspot” and “Young & Hungry” voices Elena, while Yvette Nicole Brown of “Community,” “Reno 911!” actor Carlos Alazraqui, and “Rick and Morty” actor Chris Parnell voice unusual creatures called jaquins. 

“Elena” creator Craig Gerber recently discussed how he and the others working on the show looked to Latin traditions when creating the world of Avalor. 

“It was very important to us that, since we were doing a show with a kingdom inspired by Latin American culture, that we get that right,” Mr. Gerber told USA Today. “Even though it’s a fairytale world, there are things that feel very authentic.” 

Details range from tile being used in the appearance of Avalor Palace to the inclusion of the jaquins, which appear to be a combination of a macaw and a jaguar, two creatures found in Latin America. 

The debut episode is already streaming on the Disney Channel app and executive director of the National Association of Latino Independent Producers Axel Caballero told the New York Times, “We were all very pleasantly surprised at how well the character was conceived. This is going to have a great impact.” 

Meanwhile, the upcoming Disney movie “Moana,” which stars Auli’i Cravalho and Dwayne Johnson, is inspired by Polynesian culture and is set to come to theaters this November. It co-stars Alan Tudyk and Phillipa Soo of “Hamilton,” with “Hamilton” creator and star Lin-Manuel Miranda working on the music.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to