10 Latina Actresses Who Were the Main Character on Disney Channel

by: on | in TV | No Comments

There’s a ton of work that still needs to be done when it comes to showing more diversity in the media and especially when it comes to Disney. The first confirmed gay couple in a Disney film got less than 10 seconds of airtime together in Beauty and the Beast (and, FYI, still got a ton of backlash), the first black Disney Princess was in a movie that’s less than 10 years old and we’ve never seen a trans character affiliated with the Disney name. While all of that is true — and definitely a problem — Disney Channel has made strides in the past few years to show a rainbow of diverse characters, particularly when it comes to race.

While it was cool to see a Mexican-American character like Miranda, played by Lalaine, take up a central role as Lizzie’s BFF in Lizzie McGuire, we need to talk about how often people of color are pushed to the sidelines as the goofy sidekick whose only purpose is to support the main — often white — character. We literally see this all the time, on basically every channel on TV. Disney Channel, however, has made a pointed effort to break this trend by casting actors and actresses from all different backgrounds as its lead characters. We’ve shown you eight black actors who got the starring role on a Disney show, like Zendaya and Raven-Symone, so now scroll below to see 10 Latina and/or Hispanic actresses who were the main character on a Disney Channel program:

Selena Gomez

Even though SelGo appeared on Barney & Friends as a 10-12-year-old, it was on the Disney Channel where she made her name.

She guest-starred on The Suite Life of Zack and Cody and Hannah Montana before finally getting the lead on Wizards of Waverly Place and in Princess Protection Program.

The pop hitmaker was born in Grand Prairie, Texas but her family roots on her father's side are Mexican.

Photo: Disney Channel

Demi Lovato

Selena's Disney Channel BFF back in the day also has Mexican ancestry.

After Dems stole the show in the Disney Channel Original Movie Camp Rock, she was cast as the star of Sonny with a Chance, which was on air from 2009-2011, and Princess Protection Program, alongside Selena.

The singer/actress has spoken about embracing her Latin roots in interviews, saying, "Growing up in America, I never really appreciated my culture. I knew what being Hispanic was, but I thought that since I didn't look Hispanic, I was white."

She continued to Glam, "My genetics gave me a curvy figure, and I've come to understand that in the Latina culture, that is beautiful. I no longer look at my body and think, 'Oh my gosh, I have such a fat butt.' Or, 'I hate my thighs.' On some days I don't love them. But, you know, that's one of the things that makes me me." True that!

Photo: Disney Channel

Bella Thorne

Following in Demi and Selena's footsteps came Bella, who has Cuban roots, as well as some Irish and Italian in her genes.

The 19-year-old told HuffPost Live that most don't believe that she's Latina. "People ask me all the time: How did you have a quinceañera if you're not Latin?"

It was how she followed up expressing that frustration that got her some heat by the Latino community. She basically read off a bunch of female Latina stereotypes saying that's what confirms her roots. "[I'm] very fiery, and super feisty, and really spicy, I would say. I'm, like, very sweet, and then I love to give attitude in a fun, loving way. But I definitely say that I'm spunky and that my Latin heritage comes out when I talk." Hmm...

Photo: Disney Channel

Jenna Ortega

Jenna is the newest addition to the Disney Channel Latina club, having snagged a role on both Stuck in the Middle and Elena of Avalor in 2016.

The 14-year-old's heritage traces back to Puerto Rico and Mexico, though she was born in Southern California.

Photo: Disney Channel

Christina Aguilera

Like Britney Spears and Ryan Gosling, Christina sought young fame on Disney's The All-New Mickey Mouse Club House and is the first Latina to hold a main role on the kid-oriented network, though many don't know the star's family is from South America.

The "Genie in a Bottle" singer's father is Ecuadorian and she's won one Latin Grammy Award.

Photo: Disney Channel

Adrienne Bailon

While the first five actresses were the lead on a series, we've now graduated onto Latinas who were the lead... in a DCOM.

First has obvs gotta be Adrienne, who was in all three Cheetah Girls films (and some episodes of That's So Raven and The Suite Life, BTW).

Adrienne is 100% Latina, having a Puerto Rican mother and Ecuadorian father. She speaks Spanish, as does her character in Cheetah Girls.

Photo: Disney Channel

Sabrina Bryan

While Adrienne is known as the Latina Cheetah Girl, Sabs also has Hispanic roots. However, some question if she's trying to hide that fact because she goes by Sabrina Bryan as opposed to her birth name, Reba Sabrina Hinojos. The Dancing With the Stars alum's father is Mexican and her mother is Caucasian.

Photo: Disney Channel

Camilla Belle

This actress spent a lot of time in her mother's home country of Brazil during her youth and has expressed her passion for Brazilian soap operas. Her breakout film role was in the 1995 film The Little Princess, but she became a Disney star in Rip Girls five years later.

Photo: Disney Channel

America Ferrera

Long before she was ~Ugly Betty~, America was in Gotta Kick It Up! — a Disney Channel Original Movie about a group of middle school Latina girls who form a dance troupe to help alleviate the everyday struggles of being a teen girl (which we can all relate to).

These days, America speaks out about the lack of Latino role models she could see herself in during her younger years and hopes to be that inspiration for other young women now.

Photo: Disney Channel

Camille Guaty

America's co-star from Gotta Kick It Up! is of Puerto Rican and Cuban decent on her father's side, while her mother's family comes from the Canary Islands (off of Spain).

Prior to her Disney role, she was on The WB's Raising Dad and went on to star on Prison Break and Happyland. She was also on two episodes of The Vampire Diaries! Remember Caitlin?

The actress is 40 now, which might make you feel old AF.

Photo: Disney Channel

7 Latinos Who Played the Lead on a Nickelodeon Show

Spread the Word

Tagged: , , , , , ,

Previous Post Adventure Time Lesbian Kiss
10 Awesome Same-Sex Couples Featured on Your Fave Cartoon TV Series
Next Post Riverdale: Betty Cooper Goes Dark, Bad
10 Good Girls from Your Favorite Teen Television Series… Who Went Bad!