Jewish Latina princess to debut on Disney TV show

September 22, 2019 16:01
2 minute read.
Jewish Latina princess to debut on Disney TV show

Disney characters attend the 25th anniversary of Disneyland Paris at the park in Marne-la-Vallee, near Paris, France, March 25, 2017. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Disney's multiple Emmy award-winning children's TV series Elena of Avalor is set to feature a main character that is a first for the media – a Jewish Latina princess.

Elena of Avalor, which is slated to begin its third season on October 7, already has holiday specials planned for the incoming months, such as a Dia de los muertos-inspired episode in October, according to a Disney Channel press release. However, the release added that in December, the series will feature a Hanukkah-themed episode featuring a visiting princess who is explicitly stated to be from a "Latina Jewish kingdom."

The actress portraying this as-of-yet unnamed princess is Jamie-Lynn Sigler (The Sopranos), who is herself Jewish and, in fact, has visited Israel on Birthright in 2008. "It's one of the most beautiful, inspiring places I've ever been to," Sigler said of her trip. "I now have a greater understanding and motivation about preserving my Jewishness."

Sigler commented on her casting over Twitter on Tuesday, saying that she is "so excited to voice Disney's first Jewish princess."

In addition to Sigler, the third season is set to feature a wide variety of special guest stars, including actors like Tovah Feldshuh (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend), Broadway stars like Anthony Ramos (Hamilton) and even professional wrestler Roman Reigns.

The addition of a Jewish princess in the 82-year history of Disney princesses – the titular character of 1937's Snow White being the first – might come as a surprise to some, considering that the company's late founder, Walt Disney, continues to be infamous for the antisemitic views he held in his life. Indeed, Disney was a noted member of the antisemitic group the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals. However, many dispute these allegations.

Though this is the first time Disney has debuted a princess that they officially identify as Jewish, Jewish comedian Sarah Silverman would argue that a Jewish Disney princess already exists.

Tweeting on International Woman's Day in March 2018, Silverman referred to the character Vanellope von Schweetz from the 2012 film Wreck-It Ralph, whom she voiced, as a "a lil Jewish girl in a green hoodie and candy stuck to her hair," and later elaborated on this in further statements.

The directors of the film's sequel, Ralph Breaks the Internet, agreed with Silverman that von Schweetz is in fact Jewish. However, Disney has never given this assessment any confirmation or support.

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