Stephanie Beatriz leads us through the magical world of Disney’s Encanto (in theatres Nov. 24), with songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda, but the actor voicing the lead character Mirabel stressed that she’s not a Disney princess, she’s a “cooler” Disney heroine.
“Technically Mirabel’s not a princess but she is a Disney heroine, which I think is even cooler,” Beatriz said at a press conference ahead of the movie’s release.
“Disney has this incredible tradition of crafting these female characters, the protagonists and their stories are these girls and women who are really brave, really good at heart, want the best for everyone around them, and are willing to go on these sometimes really dangerous, crazy, magical adventures to get what they want, and I’m really proud to be part of that legacy.”
Encanto is visually brilliant with vibrant colours and impressively detailed animated landscapes, something we’ve all come to expect from Disney but it's still impressive to see.
The story takes place in Colombia and tells the tale of the magical Madrigal family. A long time ago, Alma (voiced by María Cecilia Botero) had to flee her home with her three children. That's when she experienced a miracle, which is never fully explained, but leads to the creation of a magical house in the mountains of Colombia and every member the Madrigal family, from that time forward, was given a unique magical gift. These gifts include super strength, the power to heal, extraordinary hearing, and even the ability to create flowers out of thin air, among others.
But one person was left out, 15-year-old Mirabel (Beatriz). The only person in her family without a special power, Mirabel feels like an outcast, especially when her grandmother, Abuela Alma, is asking her to stay out of the way as the rest of her family is using their magical powers.
Things start to change when Mirabel discovers that the family’s magic is in danger and she may be the Madrigal who can save the magical gifts.
'I had that sort of imposter syndrome'
For Beatriz, voicing Mirabel spoke to her personally, connecting to this “imposter syndrome” the actor revealed she’s had in her life, and feeling like an outcast.
“Mirabel doesn’t have a gift, which I find extremely relatable because there have been many times in my life where I felt like I didn’t belong, I didn’t measure up, I wasn’t talented enough to be there, I had that sort of imposter syndrome,” Beatriz said. “But I also discovered by getting older, and working more and more on trusting myself, that I do have something to offer, and it is special, and I am myself.”
“Not everybody’s going to love that but the people that do, are going to love it really hard.”
Inspiration from Lin-Manuel Miranda's family
In terms of inspirations for the story, directors Jared Bush and Byron Howard, along with songwriter Lin-Manuel Miranda and his father Luis, went to Colombia in 2018 to explore the surroundings and get real inspiration for this movie.
But Miranda also revealed that it was actually a story from his father that inspired the character of Abuela Alma.
“I remember him telling us a story about his grandmother in Puerto Rico, she had lots of kids and those kids married, and they all stayed under the same roof,” Miranda explained. “She ruled with such certainty that people would bring their paycheques to her and she would reallocate the wealth amongst the kids and the married couples, and her children and grandchildren.”
“That is the kind of rule that ended up informing Abuela Alma, who really loves her family dearly, but holds it super tight, and that’s just sort of where our story begins.”
Ultimately, Encanto is a creative take on the classic underdog story we still love to see, making you reflect on your own complex family dynamics.