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Disney Defends Part-Hispanic Princess Sofia

Walt Disney has been defending its newest princess after critics said her Hispanic-influenced ethnicity was not Hispanic enough.

Animated character Sofia stars in the TV movie Sofia The First: Once Upon A Princess.

It is due to be broadcast on the Disney Channel and Disney Junior in the US next month, with a TV series to follow next year.

Hispanic advocacy groups have questioned whether the fair-skinned, blue-eyed young princess is an accurate representation of the Hispanic population.

The Washington DC-based National Council Of La Raza - La Raza means "race" - wondered why Disney was not doing more to promote its first princess with Hispanic-inspired roots.

"They seem to be backpedalling," said spokeswoman Lisa Navarrete.

"They've done such a good job in the past when they've introduced Native American, African-American and Asian princesses. They made a big deal out of it, and there was a lot of fanfare.

"But now they're sort of scrambling. It's unusual because Disney has been very good about Latino diversity.

"Little girls look to these characters to see themselves represented. If they don't see themselves, it makes a difference.

"It would be nice to see Disney make a full-out push for a Latina princess, whether it's Sofia The First or not."

Craig Gerber, the co-executive producer of the show, said Sofia was a "mixed-heritage princess in a fairytale world".

He said her mother and birth father respectively hail from kingdoms inspired by Spain and Scandinavia, although Sofia was born and raised in Enchancia, a "make-believe melting pot kingdom" patterned after the British Isles.

Sofia is voiced by Modern Family actress Ariel Winter, a Caucasian, while her mother is played by Hispanic Grey's Anatomy actress Sara Ramirez.

The film and a subsequent TV series will follow the young princess as she adjusts to royal life after her mother marries the King of Enchancia.

"Sofia considers herself a normal Enchancian girl like any other," said Gerber. "Her mixed heritage and blended family are a reflection of what many children today experience."

Disney Junior executive Nancy Kanter added: "It is a fairytale and storybook world that we hope will help spur a child's imagination.

"It's one where we can have flying horses, schools led by fairies, songs that have a Latin beat and towns with markets like those found in North Africa."