Dear Disney Animation Studios, I’m confused, why is your first Jewish princess from Colombia?

Carolyn Abram
2 min readJan 21, 2022

Dear Disney Animation Studios,

I confess, I had never really understood the phrase “representation matters” before. Sure, it sounded like a nice idea and all, but not super important to me, personally. So there I was, trying to avoid being forced to watch those shikse goddesses from Frozen yet again by proposing a new movie, Encanto. When Mirabel Madrigal entered the scene — olive skin, curly hair, bad eyesight, sensible purse, zaftig AF — it was like Oy vey! — I’d been seen! It was a magical feeling. I got it. Representation matters, people. But this brings me to my question: why is your first Jewish Princess from Colombia?

My children tried explaining to me that Mirabel and her family were Colombian. They were not fleeing the Nazis, the Russians, the Pollacks, or the Spanish Inquisition, but rather the ongoing class conflict seeded by years of exploitation by Spanish colonizers. But if that’s true, why did her Bubbe pit Mirabel against her siblings and cousins, all of whom had achieved more by her age than she could ever dream of? Maybe Mirabel attends Columbia, as in Columbia University? That would make a lot of sense because it’s not Harvard or Yale, but it is still technically an Ivy, Grandma!

I thought it was really clever how you combined the miracle of Hanukkah with the tradition of lighting a Yartzheit candle after the death of a loved one. Also, the way one sister had been able to hold a grudge against her own brother for over twenty years over a stray comment on her wedding day seemed like it could have come straight from my own mishpocha. It’s the attention to little details like this that really make the difference between paying lip service to diversity and actually achieving diversity.

I know there are lots of Jews behind the scenes in Hollywood, so in some ways it’s surprising that the story of a family from a secluded shtetl, suffering under the weight of impossible matriarchal expectations, took so long to get told. So then why was Mirabel’s mother always shtupping her full of arepas to heal her instead of chicken soup with kreplach? And why was no one ever telling Mirabel to put on a sweater?

Either way, thank you, it was a good movie, even with a lack of Hebrew-no-no-no.

Sincerely,

The Abram Sisters

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