A new little princess is about to join the ranks of Belle, Cinderella, Tiana and Jasmine. Her name is Sofia and she's Disney's first Latina princess.
Princess Sofia will make her debut the Disney Channel on Nov. 18 in a made-for-TV movie called Sofia the First: Once Upon a Princess, reports NBC News.
According to a Disney Junior description of the show, Sofia's mother marries the King of Enchancia and now she "must learn how to act like a proper princess in time for her debut ball while overcoming her new step-sister's jealousy and the bumbling Royal Sorcerer's evil scheme to take over the kingdom."
When questioned about why Sofia's mother Miranda has a darker complexion than the rest of the characters, Disney executive producer Jamie Mitchell told Entertainment Weekly, "She is Latina."
Unlike the 2009 release of Princess and the Frog where Disney marketed Princess Tiana as an African American girl, the network is downplaying Sofia's heritage.
“It’s sort of a matter-of-fact situation rather than an overt thing," added Mitchell.
Little Sofia hasn't even made her debut yet but she's already being criticized for appearing too white to be a Latina.
"The range of characters in ‘Sofia the First’ — and the actors who play them — are a reflection of Disney’s commitment to diverse, multicultural and inclusive storytelling, and the wonderful early reaction to ‘Sofia’ affirms that commitment," Disney said in a statement to NPR affiliate KPCC.
Disney's decision not to emphasize Sofia's Hispanic heritage upset some critics who wish the network would make her ethnicity more obvious to viewers.
"Are they afraid that some people are not going to accept this princess because she is Latina?" Alex Nogales, President and CEO for the National Hispanic Media Coalition, a non-profit organization that promotes Latino equality in the entertainment industry, said to Fox Latino.
Nogales added that Disney needs to have a better answer for why they're not promoting Sofia's Latin roots.
“We need more heroes right now that are very identifiable,” says Nogales. “We’re in a time where Latinos are taking the blame for everything that is wrong with America. This is not a time to pussyfoot around. If you’re going to promote this to the public, and Latinos in particular, do us a favor and make it a real Latina."
Sofia the First movie will be followed by a 2013 TV series on both Disney Channel and Disney Junior.