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The Story Behind the Magic of “Encanto”

by Karen Ramos

A little piece of Colombia and its culture has reached movie theaters. Disney, the animation giant, has set its eyes on a Latin American country and gives life to “Encanto,” the movie. Encanto breaks all the stereotypes of blonde princesses and castles. This time the main character is Mirabel, a Colombian girl with curly brunette hair, who wears typical clothes made by natives and lives with a big family, “the Madrigals,” in a very peculiar house in the Colombian mountains. The house is near a beautiful town with colonial architecture. But what catches my attention is more than the fact that “Encanto’’ is a movie full of colors and traditions which show the joy of Latin people. Beyond the movie the important event to me is the way an ordinary girl, recently graduated in Literature, became the inspiration and cultural adviser to the Disney team.

Alejandra Espinoza left Bogota, Colombia’s capital, running away from the noise. Her destination was a scenic town, Barichara. She wanted to write and paint and this town was a perfect place to do it. Alejandra never imagined that when she got there, her life was about to change. Shortly after settling in the town, she became the town’s tour guide. One day, Alejandra received an unexpected phone call from Disney; they were looking for somebody to be their cultural adviser to produce “Encanto.” Alejandra could not miss the opportunity of a lifetime. Deep inside she was afraid of not being able to make a good impression on the Disney team to get the job, but this did not stop her. After all, if your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough. Therefore, she did her best, and it was because of her sincere and determined attitude, she got a contract to be the official Disney cultural adviser.

After 4 years of hard work, the movie hit the theaters, and Alejandra attended the movie premier just like she said: “I had that dream of going to Hollywood like this, and to turn a peasant skirt into a princess dress.” She was wearing a colorful peasant skirt, feeling so proud to represent native Colombians. Her life changed; now Alejandra owns a bookstore as well as a coffee shop in Barichara. Also, she is recognized by the town people, which makes her happy. Alejandra is an example, that no matter where or who you are, you cannot stop dreaming and believing in yourself. She was not only the inspiration for Mirabel’s character. She is the inspiration to all the women who don’t consider themselves having the ability to do important things in life. Also, she shows us that beyond big castles and princesses, dreams can come true!

Author’s Note: My name is Karen Ramos, I was born and raised in El Salvador, I have a bachelor’s degree in business administration. In 2016 I moved to the United States, and I have been living here ever since.