ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 09: Ariana DeBose performs onstage during D23 Expo 2022 at Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California on September 09, 2022. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)

We Might Be Getting an Afro-Latina Disney Princess as Soon as Next Year!

While Marvel got most of the attention over the weekend at the D23 Expo, there were a ton of other surprises coming from stories of magic and fantasy. Alongside the trailer for Disenchanted, and preview footage for the live-action The Little Mermaid, Disney announced an all-new animated, musical film inspired by the north star for many protaganists—Wish.

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Directed by Chris Buck and Dawn Veerasunthorn, the film stars Academy-award-winning actress Ariana Debose—who, let’s be real, already looks like a Disney princess—as Asha and legendary voice actor Alan Tudyk as her goat, Valentino. In a desperate attempt for aid, 17-year-old Asha pleas to the stars for help and accidentally brings a star (much smaller than the sun) hurling down to Earth.

Visually, the influences appear to pull from across Southern Europe, North Africa, and West Asia (most of the MENA region). However, because Ariana DeBose is voicing Asha and the character clearly has brown skin and two styles of Black braids, this might make her the first Afro-Latina Disney princess! I’m using ‘princess’ loosely here because we don’t know anything about her story, and there’s a whole process before someone is officially inducted into that status.

According to Deadline, the filmmakers explained the movie blends a watercolor style with 3D CGI animation. Some of the animations leaked online, via a performance at the announcement, and it looks like this influence of 2D media is pushed further than the anime and manga style from Disney Pixar’s Turning Red. The movement reminded me more of what Sony achieved in Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, but less action-oriented because she’s not web-slinging. With next year being the 100th anniversary of Disney, it’s no surprise this extravagance resembles the storybook grandeur of Sleeping Beauty.

Yes, a MUSICAL!!!

Three-time Grammy nominee Julia Michaels has writing credits and is the only musical name (other than DeBose) we know is attached to the project at the moment. However, the Wish‘s story was written by co-director Buck and Jennifer Lee both of which worked on the Disney animated musical Frozen. Between this movie and Halle Bailey as The Little Mermaid, Disney Records will be taking my money next year.

I’m not sure how much longer this is going to be available, but there’s a video online of DeBose performing a ballad called “More For Us.” The instrumentation (specifically the guitar) further points to the story being heavily inspired by Spain or (more likely) Latin America. Lyrically, we need a lot more context, beyond Asha looking at the star. Many of the background images look like storyboard art, and it’s unclear how much of that will be visible in the film.

(featured image: Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney.)

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Alyssa Shotwell
(she/her) Award-winning artist and writer with professional experience and education in graphic design, art history, and museum studies. She began her career in journalism in October 2017 when she joined her student newspaper as the Online Editor. This resident of the yeeHaw land spends most of her time drawing, reading and playing the same handful of video games—even as the playtime on Steam reaches the quadruple digits. Currently playing: Baldur's Gate 3 & Oxygen Not Included.