Jenna Guglielmi

From Saludos Amigos to Encanto: Disney’s Slow Inclusion of Latinos in Film

The Scholar: Jenna Guglielmi

The Project: From Saludos Amigos to Encanto: Disney’s Slow Inclusion of Latinos in Film

The Essential Question: “I wanted to do a history project at first, but it was all taken up. I wanted to do something with the idea of Latin American representation in Disney, and then I was doing language, so I thought Latin American representation in Disney Film. And I also wanted to do something that mattered to me a little bit. In my AP Spanish class last year, we watched Encanto and we talked about how many cultural aspects there are and how beautiful the movie is. But how there really are no Latina Disney princesses, and looking through history. The first three movies in my project, I had never heard of, so there was nothing there. I thought of myself as a little kid who loved Ariel and all those movies, and then how Latino children–especially little girls–don’t really have someone to look up to. I wanted to explore that a little more.”

Surprising Discovery: “Definitely the amount of bad stereotypes there are of Latino characters, and the lack of representation there is. It wasn’t something I had thought of before, but looking through these I realized how exclusive it was, and then how important these movies are. I always saw movies like Coco and Encanto and thought ‘they are so nice, they are really good movies.’ but I didn’t realize the actual, true significance of it. And then also one thing I did realize that I hadn’t thought of before, was how important it is to have actors, and directors, and writers who are of Latin American descent going into these movies to make sure they are accurate.”

Biggest Challenge: “I made a documentary, and I’m not tech savvy at all, so that was very challenging for me. After I got all the information, being able to put it in and make it visually appealing and get all my information in there in a timely manner, it ended up being about 20 minutes and that was the most difficult part for me.”

Tip for Future Scholars: “I would say, it’s really hard to come up with something that you want to talk about. A lot of kids in my class, and I, had a hard time finding a topic, but I would say to let your passions and what you care about and what you think is important drive you, so that way you feel strongly about what you are doing, and that makes it easier to create something that matters.”

From all of your research, is there a favorite song or scene from any of these movies that stands out to you now? “My personal favorite is one of the last important scenes in Encanto. The flashback scene where they are escaping the soldiers that are attacking them and the grandfather kind of sacrifices himself, and it’s a song about butterflies, “Dos Oruguitas.” I think it’s a nice tribute to the displacement that the Colombian people had to go through, and the perseverance and determination. I think that can make us a lot more appreciative and understanding of immigrants and Latin American immigrants especially, and I think that song is beautiful, also.”