Disney’s “Encanto” positively impacted Latinx representation in media


Photo contributed by Jessica Anderson

Cal Lutheran students Jessica Anderson, Kaihya Thomas, Taryn Gaulke, Erika Weis, and Gbemi Abon (left to right) dress up as “Encanto” characters at Disneyland.

Ysabella Gonzalez, Reporter

Latinx representation in Disney movies like “Encanto” is important to the Latinx community. It brings a whole ethnic group to light in Disney films when they feature Latinx people as main characters instead of just side characters who are mainly utilized for humor. While “Coco” also helped in building this representation, it was “Encanto” that made a bigger impact.

“I feel like the Latinx community has got some representation through Disney with Coco, but Encanto took it to a whole new level,” California Lutheran University senior Ashley Rauda said in a Zoom interview.

For many, Latinx people who watched the film could see their culture or some aspect of their culture being shown so prominently. It became a symbol and representation to be proud of, instead of a background detail. 

“I’m from El Salvador so we have some components from the Colombian culture, so it was nice to see that represented and I feel a lot of Latinx community found something they relate to in there,” Rauda said.

Even those who aren’t part of the Latinx community can appreciate the energy of the characters and the community the film is representing. 

The characters in “Encanto” represent their own families and roles they themselves have. In being seen as the strong one like Luisa, or the perfect one like Isabella, those who watch the film are able to reflect on shared experiences. 

“It’s really cool that a lot of people could just resonate with the joy that was on screen…that’s a story that a lot of people resonated with in their own homes and lives and families…they did it in such a beautiful way and I just loved it,” Cal Lutheran junior Hannah Sanders said in a Zoom interview. 

Both Rauda and Sanders felt represented by characters in the film on some level, a first for Rauda and a sentiment Sanders appreciated.

This representation is important as it shows a community that has been depicted in the media as funny side characters or even harmfully depicted as gang members or drug dealers in a more accurate light. This film illustrates an important aspect of the whole community, the side where we treasure family and tradition. 

“I think it’s important for the Latinx community to be able to see themselves in these stories as main characters because it’s what everyone deserves, to see themselves as a protagonist,” Sanders said. 

Not only were the community and characters so beloved by viewers, but the music also stood out. The movie is more than just its visuals, the score also makes the film, something that Disney has always succeeded in doing. Many viewers, including myself, found the songs to be catchy, relatable, and charming as they held similar rhythms you would hear in Latinx music.

“There’s so many scenes with dancing, you can see the actual streets of the city where they’re from, and you have the music element…it’s really fun to watch,” Sanders said.

According to Billboard.com, “We Don’t Talk about Bruno,” one of the most catchy tracks from the “Encanto” soundtrack stands at the top for the third week in a row as of Feb. 14. In another article by Billboard.com, the soundtrack itself is mentioned to have also held first on the billboard for five weeks.

I believe the film “Encanto” has encapsulated the Latinx community as a whole and depicted us in a positive light. We finally have a film that we can truly see ourselves in and it has become a celebration for both young and old.

As “Encanto” has made such a big impact, I hope Disney will have more Latinx films on the way. Beyond the numbers and money the movie had made, it had resonated with so many to be able to see themselves on screen. Our world consists of diverse communities that have not previously been represented in mainstream media. With “Encanto” it is nice to see this begin to change.