The importance of “Encanto”


Grace LeVeque

Representation in general in the media, especially in children’s media, has shown to be incredibly valuable to people of the respective minority. For some, seeing themselves on the big screen can have a huge impact.

Disney’s new “Encanto” has quickly become one of the most popular and talked-about movies of recent months, and for good reason. While it includes a beautiful display of animation and color, catchy songs, and complex story building, its most compelling aspect is certainly the diverse cast of characters, with Hispanic and Colombian representation. 

Alondra Alvarado (‘23) is someone who was especially touched by “Encanto’s” narrative and story.

“Other than it being a beautifully animated movie, ‘Encanto’ tackles mature themes in a simple and fun way,” Alvarado said. “Unlike older Disney movies, ‘Encanto’ was handled with respect, and you could tell the creators put a lot of research into it.”

Speaking of creators, the vast majority of the cast, producers, and writers are Hispanic, with Colombian roots.

“It’s nice to see your features and looks represented on screen,” Alvarado said. “Not only as a way to make better character designs, but seeing yourself represented in media makes people be seen and validated, and isn’t that what people really want? To feel like they belong.”

On top of diverse appearances, ‘Encanto’ also tells a tale that many Hispanic people and families can resonate with.

“I think ‘Encanto’ is trying to tell the story of first-generation immigrants,” Alvarado said. “Abuela is forced to migrate with her town to a new location because of colonizers, and without spoiling anything, she goes through a lot of hardships trying to protect her town. She puts enormous pressure on her kids and grandkids to help the townsfolk, to be the miracles she did not have while in her time of need.”

“In many immigrant families, there is an expectation to succeed,” Alvarado said. “Going to college, making money… because the parents have given you a life they didn’t have. ‘Encanto’ shows that these expectations can weigh a person down, and breaking out of your expectations does not make you a failure or less than.” 

It’s clear why ‘Encanto’ holds such importance to so many people. It tells a story that has been relatively unrepresented in the public eye until this point, especially in media marketed toward children. 

“’Encanto’ is a universal movie. You don’t have to be Latino to relate to the familiar problems of being the burnt-out gifted child, being the sibling or friend who everyone depends on, [or] feeling like you’re not reaching the potential you know you have,” Alvarado said.

“I’d love to see a spectrum of cultures in media, from White, Latin, Asian, Black, and Queer. Diversity in media has gotten better, but I know we can also do so much more,” she concluded.

After decades of Disney characters and princesses all looking the same, seeing something new is refreshing. Looking forward, hopefully, Disney continues taking steps towards a more diverse and inclusive future.