Every little girl deserves to see herself represented on TV. Disney hasn’t always had the greatest track record with ensuring racial and sexual diversity onscreen, but in recent years the company has demonstrated that this is changing in a big way. The newest addition to the roster is Disney Junior’s animated mystery series Mira, Royal Detective, which will feature an all-Indian cast, a first for the network.
According to Entertainment Weekly, the series will be set “in the magical land of Jalpur, inspired by the cultures and customs of India, with each 22-minute episode set to feature authentic music and dance elements.” The protagonist will be a young girl who gets appointed to the position of “royal detective” after solving a case involving the young Prince Neel. The two then set out on a series of adventures across the land to help both royals and commoners alike.
The series has already acquired a broad set of names for its cast. The lead role will be voiced by newcomer Leela Ladnier. Others joining the cast include Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire) and Jameela Jamil (The Good Place). Those attached to the project are already giving it an extra boost of attention, although this, of course, is not going to be of too much importance for its target audience. Jamil recently tweeted about her excitement for the show:
— Jameela Jamil (@jameelajamil) November 29, 2018
As of late, Disney has been making a stronger effort to create a sense of diversity with its productions. Their animated feature films are beginning to feature different nationalities and cultures, having had great success with pictures such as Moana and Coco. The company has also been making strides with their live-action shows, the Disney Channel series Andi Mack being the first to feature an openly gay main character.
Another recent series on Disney Junior called Elena of Avalor features a young Latina princess as the title character, who finds herself facing the challenges of leadership while ruling her kingdom. In addition to teaching young girls and boys about the value in having kindness and resilience, it either exposes children to a new culture or else gives them a chance to see themselves represented onscreen — this is the legacy that Mira, Royal Detective will be perpetuating.
Both series also feature a strong female protagonist, which allows young girls to find role models in the heroines they see on screen, and furthermore, ones that look like them. It’s vital that kids are receiving the opportunity to grow up with access to this kind of onscreen representation. To be able to see a character that looks similar to oneself is incredibly impactful, especially at an age where everyone and everything has influence.
This empowers children to believe that their own stories are worth telling and that they themselves are capable of doing anything. It may seem a sappy sentiment, but it couldn’t be truer — they are the future.
This is how we will foster a truthful sense of equality and acceptance in our youth. If we normalize a diverse range of races and sexualities through culturally abundant programs such as Mira to those who might not otherwise come across them, it will also translate when these kids enter into the real world.
This series will likely be the first time many children encounter Indian characters and customs, particularly if they live in areas with a small South Asian population. Mira, Royal Detective is going to be another great milestone for Disney, and one that will likely shape the future landscape of children’s television programming for the better.
The show is set to debut in 2020.