When I was younger, I had a fascination with all things magic. From W.I.T.C.H. to Winx Club, I grew up adoring fantastical stories with empowered female characters fighting evil while also embracing their femininity. So it doesn’t surprise me that my younger self was so enamored with the world of Nickelodeon’s Every Witch Way.
For context, Every Witch Way is based on Nickelodeon’s Latin American tween telenovela Grachi. Seeing the success Grachi had abroad, Nickelodeon decided to recreate the show, but this time in English. Despite Every Witch Way being catered for an American audience, the cast is predominantly Latine and kept many of its original Latin American elements. This is something I’m very grateful for, as not only were the characters fun and relatable, but they also looked like people I knew and would interact with in Puerto Rico. This small detail made me feel closer to them, as if I could also be a part of their world.
Now flashforward to the present, where twenty year old me is revisiting Wattpad (aka the app that transformed my tween years) and I come to find that the two stories I wrote in my youth heavily resemble my then favorite show. Not necessarily plot-wise since none of them had magical elements in them, but rather in setting and characters.
These two stories were set in Miami, which is also the setting for Every Witch Way. All the literature I consumed on Wattpad was based in the United States so it felt out-of-place to have a setting different from that. However, it was also weird writing from an American standpoint as a Latina living in Puerto Rico. I’d feel like an imposter writing the story of an all-American protagonist in America given that I didn’t really know what that entailed. Every Witch Way helped me find a balance between the two since it made what was once foreign to me feel more relatable.
Not to mention, having Latine characters have their issues being centered around typical high school drama and romance rather than their ethnicity felt so refreshing. It made me feel like stories that included me could be just as silly and heartwarming as my American counterparts. My two stories have Latina protagonists and main characters. Although I didn’t notice it at the time, Every Witch Way really helped me shape my perspective in realizing that people like me could be in the stories I consumed and wanted to write. These characters gave me inspiration to write some of my own and write a story I felt represented in.
Many make the argument that diversity doesn’t matter when it comes to telling a story and that it’s all performative. However, the reality is that representation in media is important, especially for younger viewers. They will be able to see themselves in the characters they indulge in as they continue to grow and cultivate their identities. It is critical to promote stories that treat minorities and people of color as significant and depthful characters, not as tools solely written to add oppression into the plot. It lets them know that they are capable of having a coming-of-age story or a cheesy romance like their white American peers. Although a lot of people believe that this is unnecessary, the new generations have the right to see new or familiar faces as the center focus of a story.