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Encanto: The Musical Film that Hit the Right Note for Representation

Encanto, an animated Disney film recently released on Disney Plus, is a Latinx musical story of magic, set in Colombia. The film itself is fun, magical and a classic feel-good Disney film with musical masterpieces – and it hits the right note in the much-needed representation for the Latinx community.

The film opens a much-needed dialogue for why representation matters, particularly in films, TV shows, and all variations of the media aimed at children. Although there is still important progress to be made, particularly in children’s literature, Encanto is a step in the right direction.

So why is it so important for all types of children to be represented in films and literature?

It is important not to undervalue the feeling as a child of seeing someone who simply even looks like you in your favourite Disney films. No child should feel like everyone around them seems to look like what Disney depicts as a Princess, Prince or the famous starring role in the newest film, and they don’t have that.

It is true that you don’t need to look like a character to identify with them, but it helps, it’s exciting and makes you feel special. Seeing yourself reflected in things you love brings a sense of belonging and importance. It has been a privilege that hasn’t been afforded by Disney to this community – until now.

The moment it was most clear to me the impact this film had, was when I came across a photo on Twitter, that depicted a little boy standing, beaming in front of his TV, as the younger boy in Encanto, Antonio, is on the screen behind him. The beaming little boy looked strikingly like the character, and you can see how important that was to him. That little boy was two-year-old Kenzo Brookes, who was watching the film with his parents.

Kenzo’s mother highlighted the importance of the moment the little boy saw his doppelganger, the character who has the gift of communicating with animals, when she spoke to ABC. Kahelsha Brooks explained “I truly believe that he thought it was him”, showing just how much Kenzo identified with the character, “He kept staring at the screen and then looking back at us and smiling.”.

Even as a child myself, I remember distinctly how much I adored Dora The Explorer, as although we had different backgrounds, she was someone I could see myself in physically more than anyone else on my TV screen. It is undeniable the effect something so simple can have on children.

Encanto is a wonderful film and did a brilliant job, bringing happiness and excitement to children who had never seen themselves in Disney before. Representation is important – and I hope to see it continue!

Words by: Rebekah Thomas

Edited by: Maeve Wood

Hey! I'm a second year Politics and Philosophy student.
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